They say “Dreams” do come true.
I believe this, because today twenty young adults with developmental disabilities, both intellectual and physical, are now living in their own apartments and can call this home. They are all living their “DREAM”. This dream all began about thirteen years ago when Semiahmoo House Society collectively with its employees and Board Members reached out and spoke to families of individuals they supported to gather information and thoughts on where they would like to see their young adults in the future and what would that look like.
Involving neighbours, the community at large, governments at all levels and all those that could and would have a vested interest in a Housing project such as the one they were dreaming about were asked for their input, concerns and visions.
Great consideration was given to making the end product an ALL INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY. A place where the young, the old, children, people from different cultures and backgrounds, working individuals and retirees could all live together and call CHORUS home.
As the concept of this project moved forward, Semiahmoo House Society, again, invited families of the individuals they supported and the individuals themselves to sit down and brainstorm further, to identify outcomes.
Some of the key outcomes were:
- a place where individuals would feel at home
- a place where individuals could and would feel safe
- a place where the individuals would be supported according to their needs
- a place where there would be easy access to transportation, shopping, medical and recreational activities
- a place where the families of the individuals would know that their loved ones could safely, comfortably, affordably and happily live the rest of their lives, if their family was not there to support them
- a place that would include people from all walks of life in a welcoming environment
- a place that would meet the desired living arrangements of individuals, be it living on their own in a studio or one bedroom suite, or a two or three bedroom unit to share with their best friend or relative
As this type of housing for individuals with developmental disabilities is on the forefront of new and innovative housing options, moving further away from institutions and group homes, much research and careful consideration was required to fulfill the dream of an All Inclusive Community.
Once the ground was broken, the construction portion of the project was started and all stakeholders were on board, the process of selecting possible candidates for this innovative housing initiative began.
As this was to be an all inclusive community, screening of all residents would be an important part of the process as would screening of the individuals to be supported.
I can only speak at this point on a personal level. Being an aging parent of an individual with intellectual limitations, physical limitations and some significant medical issues, we needed to be assured that all of these would be recognized and incorporated into the support plan and that the supports would be in place to ensure that she would be safe and happy in her own home.
This process was accomplished by developing life plans for our daughter and the other developmentally disabled individuals who were interested in calling Chorus home. In their plans, their strengths, weaknesses, abilities, disabilities, likes and dislikes, and friendships were identified, to name a few. The importance of this process would have a significant impact in providing a community that was all inclusive.
Chorus has not only provided a home for individuals with disabilities, but more importantly they have provided a home for individuals who want to live in a community that welcomes and thrives on diversity.
For us, knowing that the choice we made to have our daughter move in to Chorus was the right one, not only for our loved one, but for us as parents. This cannot be measured except by the joy and happiness that is seen on her face. When individuals are asked how they like living in their own apartment, with great enthusiasm their response is always “I LOVE IT”. That speaks volumes. When you are with them in the halls or the elevator, they greet other residents and each other as if they were best friends. Always respectful, caring and authentic, interested in each others well-being.
Today I see Chorus and the model it is for an “All Inclusive Community” as an inspiration for other communities throughout the province and country to try to emulate.
I can now say my “Dream” did come true.
By Paddi Robinson, Mother of Michaela Robinson