Emotional exchange illustrates impact of natural community supports
Wednesday November 16, 2011 — Ryan Rogers
Day program supervisor Lana Beblow gets emotional just thinking about the day she and a colleague were approached by the owners of a café in the fall of 2010.
They were out for ice cream with one of the people they support making small talk about the latest hockey game when the entrepreneurs expressed their appreciation for the example they were setting.
“It really impacted me,” says Lana. “It showed me that people are becoming a lot more aware of people with disabilities and they really do care.”
“The owners were very, very emotional,” she adds. “They were outspoken, and said, this individual comes with (support workers) all the time, and the others sit him at a table and ignore him.”
“They were so angry, so passionate about it,” she adds. “They knew there is so much about this fellow, and they had to voice their feelings. This was just not how you treat a person.”
Through organizations like the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI), the inclusion movement is generating natural supports in the community. Those supports are willing to speak up about things they don’t agree with.
“We get phone calls from the community when they notice things that aren’t on the up-and-up,” says Lana. “People in the community are showing they’re very aware, they’re caring, willing to speak up and willing to make a change.”
Setting a good example is essential while out in the community she adds.
“When you’re supporting someone and not showing much interest, that sends a (negative) message, so part of our job is to encourage socially acceptable community involvement,” says Lana.
These natural supports in the community provide feedback to help identify opportunities to make a greater difference.
“It indicates people are becoming more disability-aware,” says Lana.
“That puts even more onus on us as an organization to ensure people are being treated with respect in the community and positive behaviour and supports are in place and being modelled.”
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