Rewarding long-term relationships developed during transformational time in the inclusion movement
Friday May 27, 2010 — Ryan Rogers
Adult service worker Steve Sale’s journey with the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) began in 1975, and he’s seen a big change in the way community inclusion and care for the people they support is provided.
Steve began advocating early in life, starting with his sister who has a disability.
“I just grew up around people with disabilities and it became a natural fit,” says Steve. “The original plan was to become a teacher.”
After earning a teacher’s degree from Simon Fraser University, Steve found only substitution work available, so he returned to Burnaby to work with BACI.
“It’s more like a happy accident,” he calls it. “I’d planned to do other things.”
He says his teacher’s training has come in handy in planning programs, managing groups of people and taking things in stride.
“They were still institutionalizing people when I started,” he recalls. “I refused to work in institutions, and then about ’77 they started integrating people into schools and I was involved in that to some degree.”
During that period, Steve says “it was fun going out and finding services for people who’d been institutionalized, and getting doctors, dentists and specialists in the community to take them on.”
Through his time with BACI Steve says it’s been rewarding to watch the children they support mature into adults.
“There are people I worked with in the schools so, 30 years later, I’m still with them. They’re more like friends than anything else,” he says. “They know me, I know them, and we get along.”
“That’s the best part, the longevity and continuity. . . . . It’s still fun, and that’s the main thing.”
Steve says over the years, the community inclusion movement has been progressive, with the most important changes coming in the individualization of services.
“That’s the biggest thing,” he says, “the community inclusion movement. I think it’s a great thing.”
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