June 15th, 2024

Assumptions about disabled need to be challenged

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 20, 2022.

Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs heard Thursday from speaker Marie Moyer, assistant coordinator with the L’Arche Lethbridge, on the ongoing quest for belonging amongst people with intellectual disabilities.

Outlining the mission of L’Arche, Moyer shared personal stories of people she has worked with, and the struggles those with intellectual disabilities face in today’s world.

“I want to explore what we are doing in L’Arche, a place of belonging for people with disabilities and people without disabilities, creating a community,” said Moyer. “There is still a lot to be done in terms of understanding that we all belong together. It’s not that there are some people in need of care, and some giving care, but that we all belong together. We are equal members of the human family.”

Speaking to current conditions for people with intellectual disabilities, Moyer says the cost of living with AISH is not enough to get by.

“The Assured Income for Severely Handicapped here in Alberta, is the income benefits that support people with disabilities, is finally going to be re-indexed to inflation,” said Moyer. “The government benefit that provides a monthly income for nearly 300,000 people with disabilities in Alberta was frozen, leaving recipients to make due at sub poverty levels. […] Caring for needy people seems to be a luxury, not a necessity.”

Sharing with audiences the story of a member of L’Arche, Moyer looked to connect the human aspect of understanding.

“A lot of people make assumptions about people with disabilities. We often see people with disabilities either as very needy, or somehow heroic. One or the other. Instead of seeing people just as fellow humans. People with disabilities have all the same kind of potential for joy and challenge as everybody else,” said Moyer. “If we could connect our own experiences with those with disabilities, we would find a lot in common. I think that would go a long way to helping people be truly integrated into their community.”

Working to build community and acceptance, L’Arche and Moyer work to connect people with society.

“I hope audiences see the great potential there is for people with disabilities to be welcomed fully into our society,” said Moyer. “We are changing people one relationship at a time. I think that is a powerful thing.”

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