It’s December Third: International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Since 1992 the United Nations has recognized December third as a day to promote awareness and garner support for the many issues relating to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. We cannot stress the importance of this day - international recognition that individuals with disabilities deserve the same rights, freedoms and accessibility as all other members of society. Today is extremely important for Entrust, it’s clients, client family members and loved ones, as well as all of our supporters and friends. We hope everyone takes some time today to think about the challenges individuals with disabilities face and how it effects not only the individual, but their loved ones and families as well.
As amazing as this day is for promoting attention and thoughtful discussion, 3.8 million Canadians (13.7% of the population) face the reality of having a disability on a daily basis. In honour of International Day of Persons with Disability and this year’s theme of inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities, we would like to share a story of one of our clients that helps capture the importance of empowering individuals with disabilities.
Winston arrived at Entrust in early June 2015 with a traumatic past and current situation. Winston has some specific and serious health issues, and when he first arrived his routine was to sleep all day and stay up all night long; watching movies with bouts of yelling, episodes of violence towards staff, and multiple showers. He was suspicious of all staff, would not eat anything other than potato chips and juice, and was unwilling to participate in any activity provided during the day program Framework for Life.
It took collaboration between the Framework For Life Program, Residential Program, Behaviour Specialists and his family to work out a plan of action and give Winston every opportunity to create a meaningful life for himself. It has been a slow road, but Winston has gradually warmed up to staff and peers one-on-one during the Framework for Life program.
Winston has become comfortable with using visuals and a small vocabulary to communicate his wants and needs with others around him, and responds when visuals are shown him to explain expectations and activities. He has slowly started to sleep a bit more during the night and stays awake a little longer during the day. He comes out from his room more frequently to socialize with staff and his roommates; often demonstrating his impeccable puzzle skills, colouring in bright circles and laughing with staff. He loves to be read to by staff and is slowly developing a daily routine that allows him more access to his community and family.
There was a huge turning point in early November when staff, using visuals, asked Winston to wake up and go for a walk around the community. Slowly but willingly, Winston woke up and showered only once, dressed himself, and went for a 20 minute walk around the community without incident! This was not just a onetime occurrence - Winston went again for a walk with staff a week and a half later, this time for 45 minutes! He is now much more regularly engaged with staff in puzzles and sensory play, and will use visuals to barter eating new foods in exchange for his favourite juice. He has sampled multiple different snack and meal options such as chicken nuggets, baked snap peas, grapes, oranges and granola bars! A very special recognition goes to Winston’s one on one staff for Framework for Life, Kanda Tshamala. Because of his dedication, creativity and consistency we have him to thank for allowing Winston to feel safe and be willing to grow.