Founding member says you don’t need an authoritative position to make a difference
There’s a new frontier for BACI’s advocacy that keeps Lois Godfrey, the sole surviving founder of the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI), from retiring.
Lois, 85, says the generation she advocated for back in 1956 were just children, but those same six-year-olds are now in their 60s.
“We’re the first lot of BACI parents, and our sons and daughters are seniors now. We need to support them to get their story out there so they can get the services they require,” says Lois.
Before the then-named Burnaby Association for the Mentally Handicapped (BAMH) came into being, children with intellectual disabilities had little choice but to leave home and live in institutions to gain an education in the ’50s.
The eight founding families of BAMH, (now BACI), raised the funds needed to create their own school so that their children could continue to live at home and grow up in their own community. Through their continued advocacy, the government eventually provided support to include everyone in local public schools.
Lois has served as president of BACI twice and sat on numerous committees, but says one of the most important lessons she’s learned is that you don’t need an authoritative position to make a difference.
When Lois and the founders were having trouble registering their sons and daughters into local public schools, they connected with Superintendent of Schools for Burnaby Clarence John (CJ) Fredrickson.
With experience as a teacher and principal, CJ was aware of the parents’ concerns and set them on the path to establishing BACI.
“He got eight of us together and along with a couple of high school teachers and principals, encouraged us to meet,” says Lois.
From that meeting the idea for BACI was born, and their first step was to choose a name and register as a society.
“From there we set up a couple of classrooms and hired a teacher ourselves, setting an example for the Burnaby School Board,” says Lois.
It was only a matter of time before the Burnaby school board took over the classes and the first steps toward inclusion in Burnaby began.
Those same children are now seniors and require a range of evolving and innovative supports to live more inclusively in their community.
BACI has secured housing subsidies, employment opportunities, transportation services and community support to help the adults and seniors they serve fulfil their goals and become more fully contributing members of society.
The sons and daughters of the eight founding families serve as examples of BACI’s efforts by living independently, says Lois.
She adds the City of Burnaby has led the way in B.C. for community support and inclusion and that BACI’s successes are the result of many supporters in the community.
“There are always many, many supporters behind you that follow through,” says Lois.
“Our staff and volunteers are all tremendous and BACI is fantastic,” she says.If you have a story you would like to share with the BACI Blast, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 29, or e-mail ryan(at)axiomnews.ca.
If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 29, or e-mail ryan(at)axiomnews.ca.