October marks another Community Inclusion Month, a time to celebrate inclusion, diversity, and the rights and contributions of people with developmental disabilities.
This year, Community Ventures Society, a non-profit that serves the Tri-Cities and beyond to support people with developmental disabilities and their families, urges its community to be open to the potential of all people.
“Our aim is to be leaders in promoting inclusion,” says Miriam Hoolahan, director of communications for Community Ventures Society.
“Inclusion is where everyone is open to others’ potential. We all have potential in us and can contribute in different ways. And ultimately when we embrace our different abilities, that strengthens society.”
For over 40 years, the staff and caregivers of Community Ventures Society have supported families and individuals with developmental disabilities to help them live their best lives through a variety of programs including offering adult day programs that help individuals build life and employment skills, children’s respite, foster families, summer camps, and specialized residential, outreach, and shared living services.
The not-for-profit organization started off with small beginnings but has grown, especially over the past decade.
“Most of our programs are tailored towards adults. A lot of children who have developmental disabilities go through the school system and are supported through the education system in schools and through their families,” Hoolahan says.
“But when they age out of the system and get into adulthood, many are looking for their next step—whether that’s a day program or they want help for entering the workforce.”
Community Ventures Society helps adults with intellectual disabilities build on their life skills, including helping them to find jobs by building on their resumes. They also coach their clients through job interviews and help them with the transition to the workforce.
“We work with a lot of employers in the local community to educate them about the advantages of hiring individuals with developmental disabilities,” Hoolahan says.
“It is really a win-win for both the individuals we serve and the employer. For one, it’s so important for people with developmental disabilities to work. If they’re able to work in the community, it gives them more confidence, they contribute to the economy, and they’re able to earn their own money and feel value. For the employer, it helps them to build a more diverse workplace and opens their hearts and minds to a new experience.”
The society also focuses on social enterprises to support individuals to become entrepreneurs. They currently run two enterprises, DisDaBomb, a bath bomb enterprise, and adVentures Dog Walking.
During the month of October, with the spotlight on inclusion, Hoolahan encourages individuals to change their perspective on people with different abilities.
“It’s incredible how we can all do amazing things. This month and always, be open to everyone’s potential,” she says.
For more information and to support Community Ventures Society, visit www.communityventures.ca.