Students building a more inclusive community
Learning more than a skilled-trade through work on Keystone House
Friday June 29, 2012 -- Kristian Partington
The students at Cobourg Collegiate East who enrolled in the Skilled Trades Internship and Construction Systems (STICS) course knew they’d be helping to build a house throughout their course of study.
On June 22, as they stood before Keystone House — no longer the shell that they remembered but a complete home for five people who have intellectual disabilities — they realized they built more than a house.
They’d helped to build a more inclusive community.
“It makes me feel pretty good that I’m doing something that people are going to use forever and that it’s going to be a big help in the community,” said Garrett Wiebe, one of several students who’d helped frame the large house on the north end of Cobourg.
Keystone House sprung from the vision of a group of parents who were concerned about future living arrangements for their sons and daughters who have intellectual disabilities. They wanted a true home for their loved ones that offered a mix of supports and a lifestyle tailored to meet the individual preferences of each resident.
They wanted a true home for their children.
That initial vision dates back more than 10 years and in the summer of 2006, Keystone Community Supports Corp. officially came into being.
The community began to rally around the cause and with the support of Community Living Campbellford Brighton, then-MPP Lou Rinaldi, and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, funds began to flow and the vision started taking shape.
The property was purchased in early 2010 from the builder, Leblanc Enterprises, who then partnered with the STICS program to make the Keystone House a reality.
Standing before the house with more than 100 community members, along with some of the residents and their families, the students gained a new appreciation for the contribution they made to the lives of others.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said student Molly Heffernan. “You feel really attached to it.”
Her friend Logan Trapp agreed. “It’s pretty cool that a bunch of school kids got to come out and help build something that’s this cool, “ he said.
“It’s really good for the community that they’ve got it.”
Cobourg Collegiate East vice-principal Sandy Wallace says there’s great value in students learning a trade, but when they can do so while impacting the lives of others, the benefits are immeasurable.
“It’s really valuable for this group of kids to see this group of community members and to really get an appreciation for how, when a community comes together, how much power they can have,” Wallace says.
If you have questions, comments or a story to share, please contact 800-294-0051, ext. 24, or e-mail kristian(at)axiomnews.ca.