The LiveWorkPlay membership has never been confused about the importance of employment in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. After all, "work" is right in the middle of our name! We've also partnered with some amazing employers over the years, with familiar names like MBNA and The WORKS. Both companies are examples of champions of workplace diversity and in particular hiring practices that value people with intellectual disabilities as full citizens in the Ottawa community.
Each job that goes to a person supported by LiveWorkPlay is a huge event in the life of that individual, but it is also part of a historic social change taking place in Ottawa, across the province, and all over the world! People with disabilities are emerging from the shadows and fringes of their community and taking their rightful place alongside others. This is happening with respect to housing, sports, recreation, learning, citizenship, and of course, employment!
It was not long ago that a firm belief in the right to full citizenship for people with intellectual disabilities was seen as a radical position, but thankfully those days are over. Like-minded agencies everywhere are starting to speak up and voice the wishes of their constituents. Individuals with disabilities and their family members are rejecting sheltered workshops and day programs as lifelong substitutes for community participation, and are instead focusing their energies on having the same life options as other citizens, including non-segregated paid work at minimum wage or better. In other words, a real job!
Helpful to the cause are umbrella organizations like ODEN (Ontario Disability Employment Network). ODEN is partnering with service clubs, employers, and service providers, and others across the province to provide education and celebrate champions of workplace diversity.
And local employment supports providers like LiveWorkPlay are joining local networks like EARN (Employment Accessibility Resource Network) which has its own employment champions (Business Leadership Network). Some agencies that offer grants are starting to shift their values by questioning programs and practices that segregate people with intellectual disabilities from other citizens. As the research clearly shows, having a job does not eliminate all barriers to community inclusion, but it makes a huge difference in multiple ways, from reducing poverty to improved mental health and building social networks.
Locally, United Way Ottawa has identified the sad reality that our city lags behind others in the province with one of the lowest employment rates of people with disabilities. In addition to providing grants in support of employment, they are facilitating EARN and the BLN as part of their disability employment focus.
This November 30 event features a keynote by The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Other special guests will include Joe Dale, Project Manager of Rotary at Work, and Mark Wafer, a Tim Hortons franchise owner who travels the province promoting the employment of people with disabilities.
It's Time For Feasting & Dancing
It seems like the September 23 Welcome Back Family Feast and AGM was only yesterday, but it will soon be December! That means two important LiveWorkPlay holiday traditions are just around the corner.
First up is the Festive Family Feast on Friday, December 9. We know the September feast had a busy agenda, so this time it is all about relaxing and socializing. We'll have a few announcements and celebrate some of the good news in the lives of our members for the past two months, but the real agenda is to enjoy the meal and enjoy some good company!
By popular request, the New Year's Eve party is once again a "members only" affair. We'll have seating for about 140 with a professional DJ and a delicious buffet. The ticket prices for both events are at the lowest price ever, just $15 for the feast, and just $40 (early bird price) for the NYE party.
LiveWorkPlay Travel News: All Aboard!
LiveWorkPlay helps members enjoy domestic and international travel opportunities. After extensive consultation the three choices for this year include a Caribbean cruise, Nashville, and Quebec City.
The cost for these trips is kept low through the use of bus travel (in the case of the cruise, taking the bus to and from New Jersey). Not only is this more affordable, but it is much more inclusive! Instead of a small group of LiveWorkPlay members and staff spending almost all of their time together, bus tours offer the opportunity for a shared experience with a diverse and large group of other tour passengers.
Pictured above some of those taking part in the January cruise. The hot topic was excursion opportunities, which range from swimming with stingrays to a sailing experience on an America's Cup yacht! Last year was the first time LiveWorkPlay members tried travelling with a bus tour. You can watch this Collection of video memories New Hampshire 2010 to see how it went!
People First Annual Conference
4 delegates from People First Ottawa who are also members of LiveWorkPlay made their way by bus to Toronto for the People First of Ontario Annual Conference. They were joined there by their Ottawa chapter President, Josee Varin. In addition to taking part in conference sessions the team of five also opened the conference with a presentation and discussion about the documentary film Monica & David: A Love Story. It was a great way to get 170 delegates talking about a range of topics from employment to relationships.
Above left, Jennifer Harris talks about Monica & David. Centre, Moira Fuenzalida has her ballot and is heading off to the voting booth to elect regional and board representatives for 2011-2012. Right, Caroline Matte applauds her colleague Emily Menard who has just shared a story about following her dreams of life in the community.
Although resources are scarce, People First of Ontario and local chapters across the province continue to grow and continue to represent the independent voice of advocates who have intellectual disabilities. Prior to the formal conference proceedings, the board of directors met with Assistant Deputy Minister David Carter-Whitney and other Ministry of Community and Social Services representatives to discuss a range of topics.
Some of the top People First of Ontario concerns include: the inadequacies of the Ontario Disability Support Program, particularly the rental allowance which is far below market rates, and the clawback on employment income; the continued teaching and use of restraint; the impact of strikes and picketing of people's homes.
LiveWorkPlay members: mark your calendars for the evening of Saturday, January 14, when People First of Ottawa will host a social meet and greet and annual general meeting!
Next Stop: 1223 Michael Street!
As announced to our membership last month, LiveWorkPlay headquarters is on the move. We've enjoyed our time at the C3 Centre, our home since the summer of 2010. We give thanks especially to Volunteer Ottawa, Social Planning Council of Ottawa, Ottawa Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, and United Way Ottawa for all of their support and cooperative efforts around the C3 partnership table. We'll also miss being neighbours to Families Matter Co-op. But we aren't going far so let's all visit each other often!
|Click Above for Three Views of our New Location!|
The new location at 1223 Michael Street is just a minute or two from the C3 Centre, on the east side of St. Laurent Shopping Centre. The private space of approximately 1500 square feet will serve as home to the staff team with workstations divided between several small offices, a modest meeting space, and a small but welcoming reception area for visitors.
The building has some interesting features, including an on-site cafe, free visitor parking, and a variety of non-profit, government, and business tenants that we are looking forward to meeting. The new office will be open by February 1, if not sooner. We'll make sure our members and their families have all the information they need about bus routes and other considerations.
United Way Campaign: Finish Line In Sight
There's a lot we could say about reasons to give to the annual United Way campaign. But we know most of our readers are interested in understanding how this helps LiveWorkPlay. Here's three reasons: 1) We are still in our first year of a three year funding agreement that supports employment 2) We benefit from partnership initiatives like the Employment Accessibility Resource Network 3) You can direct all or part of your contribution to LiveWorkPlay (just write 896222775RR0001 in Section C).
We've decided to get some help to motivate you: Felice Miranda and Betty Burke are two remarkable women with a few things in common, including adult children who are supported by LiveWorkPlay. They are helping to spread the word about the organization and its work as a United Way Ottawa partner and funded agency.
Volunteer Team Supports Ongoing Improvements
Volunteer Coordinator Fran Childs met with about 50 members of the LiveWorkPlay volunteer team over the past month and gathered a number of helpful suggestions. This includes the use of a new "personal profile" that is particularly helpful with volunteering matching.
Volunteers are always coming forward with great ideas, like Valerie who wondered about a first aid course with a focus on the type of everyday injuries everyone can expect to experience. Peggy from Red Cross agreed to provide exactly what Valerie was talking about and the group of LiveWorkPlay members and volunteers who attended just loved it!
Get Social With Us
We have a page on Facebook, we tweet on Twitter, we have a channel on YouTube, and you will find many of our staff members on LinkedIn!