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Formerly institutionalized woman gains her voice

Residential care worker says trust inspires growth
Wednesday June 1, 2011 — Ryan Rogers

Deb has been working with residential-care worker Anne Simons through the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) since 1988, and she’s become like a member of Anne’s family.

Anne has been with Deb from the very first day Deb left an institution, and says she was “fortunate” to witness all Deb’s “firsts” in life.

“I saw her growing up, she might have been in her thirties, but I got to see her do all her first things,” she says.

Anne says they’ve since grown together as if they were family.

“That’s how I look at it, and that’s important especially for someone who comes from an institution,” says Anne.

“They need to learn to trust again, and the only way to learn to trust is by having somebody there who’ll be there no matter what.

“You can’t grow unless you trust,” Anne says.

Through BACI, Technology for Independent Living (TIL) and the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Anne says Deb has been able to gain her voice through the use of an augmentative communication system.

“She was always a very smart lady, and at the moment now she has a computer voice that talks for her, and it’s just really neat to see her go from having just a ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ to now have a computer voice that actually talks for her,” says Anne.

“She got her voice in 2009. I was showing her some tops and she said ‘I want to buy.’ ”

From living in a world of “yes” and “no,” being able to express one’s self is liberating, says Anne.

“She has a program on her computer (called WordPower) that helps her build sentences because she never learned how to read or write,” says Anne. “But she’s smart, and learned the alphabet from watching TV.”

Anne says giving the people they support a voice and allowing them to set their own goals is at the core of BACI’s mandate.

“Giving people a way to communicate beyond ‘yes’ and ‘no’ — that’s what’s important to the Burnaby Association,” says Anne. “Part of the mandate is that people get a say of what they want out of their life.”

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.

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