May 23rd, 2024

Inclusion Lethbridge helping people on personal journeys

By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on April 30, 2024.

Herald photo by Steffanie Costigan Inclusion Lethbridge board president Bruce MacKay, vice-president Pat Robb and executive director Dave Lawson, will be hosting the Community Inclusion Celebration Banquet and Fundraiser this Saturday, helping to bring about awareness and support for people with disabilities in the community.

Inclusion Lethbridge will be hosting the Community Inclusion Celebration Banquet and Fundraiser this Saturday at the Sandman Signature Lethbridge.

The event is to bring awareness about and support inclusion for people with disabilities in the community

“We thought it would be great for them to hear stories of families and individuals. We have one young man that will be doing a presentation that had cerebral palsy, and that he’ll be talking about his journey in life, and how things was for him the struggles he’s faced and how he’s overcome them,” said Pat Robb, vice president of Inclusion Lethbridge.

Tickets for the Community Inclusion Celebration Banquet and Fundraiser are available and can be purchased by contacting Inclusion Lethbridge on Facebook or through their website at it is encouraged tickets be purchased in advance.

Executive director Dave Lawson said Inclusion Lethbridge is a family-based organization that was created approximately 65 years ago.

“When we say we’re a family organization, what families found is they found better pathways for their son or daughter, or they made changes in public policy, to make sure that other families were aware of what was available.

Also, that other families could be aware of the struggles and how to avoid those struggles. So they knew that that information needed to be collected somewhere,” said Lawson.

Bruce MacKay, president of the board of directors of Inclusion Lethbridge, has a personal experience with the organization.

He has a daughter with Down’s Syndrome and his family the supports his family needed in Inclusion Lethbridge resources which have helped his daughter to find success.

“It’s a very similar experience, I think for families like ours who maybe know, or have seen other children with disabilities in the school system, who then realize it’s possible and know that there are supports through the school district and the school system to help make that possible.

“But perhaps their son or daughter has some particular behaviours or particular struggles or particular needs that sometimes the school may find a hard time and a challenge to meet those needs. And so we can sort of help to support those families,” said MacKay.

Lawson noted in the past it was encouraged that individuals with disabilities be sent to facilities away from their families and the community, which has left families with generational trauma.

He said it’s important for individuals with disabilities to grow within their families and in the community.

“Families’ knowledge, their leadership, their experiences, and also their failures,that is an important learning for other families as well. We’re a collection point for all of that wisdom that families have when they’re when they have a loved one with a disability.

“That’s why we’re here for families that come to us in times when they’re looking for an inclusive life. We’d like to call it a good life for their son or daughter with a disability. Ultimately, that’s what we want,” said Lawson.

Robb shared her personal experience raising two sons with autism and the support she was able to find through a workshop put on back in the 1990s by Inclusion Lethbridge.

“I’m a strong believer of Inclusion Lethbridge, they have helped my family a great deal. I have two boys on the autism spectrum. And the first one is now 35 years old.

“Thirty-five years ago, we didn’t know much about autism at all. And as the behaviors escalated, as he got older, we had no idea what we were dealing with. I got introduced to this organization when there was a workshop put on back in the day,” said Robb.

She said her sons’ have both completed post-secondary education and are working.

“Both of them are adults now. The younger one is 30 years old, because I was pregnant with him when I joined this association. And he has graduated from U of L with a degree in physics.”

She talked about her oldest son’s progression despite his autism.

“He did post-secondary, also graduated and has a diploma in cultural studies and so he loves dealing with newcomers to Canada, loves teaching history. That’s his big thing – he knows his Canadian history and he loves telling people about how fabulous Canada is,” said Robb.

Lawson everyone – with or without disabilities – is on a journey.

“Too often people with disabilities are seen as who they are and who they’ve always been and who they’ll always be, when really, we have to know that every person is on a journey.

“And no matter what assessments might be available or applied, a person is always growing, a person always is a collection of memories and experiences and hopes and dreams. So, everybody’s on a journey.”

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