The local branch of March of Dimes Canada (MODC) works to maximize the independence, personal empowerment and community participation of people with physical disabilities in Thunder Bay and area. One of the ways they do this important work is through their Volunteer/Community Service program, which is supported through donations to the United Way. This program assists youth, adults and seniors living with disabilities through community based programs, support groups and the provision of direct services to individual consumers. These services include:
Information & Referral Services - educating the community on disability issues and services available;
Crisis Intervention - providing advocacy and support services to individuals with disabilities who are experiencing a variety of barriers and hardships due to poverty, lack of access to external community services, accessible housing, employment, program/government forms assistance;
Recreation and Leisure Programming - coordinating camping and day outings for clients and their caregivers/family members.
Based on feedback from participants accessing our community services and who have been attending our warehouse project, that an improvement of health, well-being and overall quality of life through our programs are achieved. Participants have the opportunity to utilize our community services/supports while enhancing their level of confidence and sense of belonging in the community.
We would like to share the story of Sarah* who lives with a brain injury that has affected her memory, speech and mobility. Her injury has affected her ability to engage in employment, social activities and overall community participation. With some gentle coaxing from a family member, Sarah connected with our warehouse program to gain some social opportunities in the community. Prior to attending our program, Sarah would rarely leave her group home and would only venture out for family visits and to attend medical appointments. Over the course of the last year, we have witnessed great growth and increased independence with Sarah. She has started to take an interest and participate in activities within our warehouse program. Sarah has become more interactive with other people, playing and teaching others how to play card games, participating in arts and gardening activities, getting involved in our special events and taking part in day trip excursions into the community. She has also become more vocal about her needs and has called upon us for help in repairing her mobility device. Because she felt comfortable reaching out to us, we were able to provide the necessary repairs to ensure her safety needs were met. This was a big step in Sarah’s recovery journey.
Sarah has increased her overall community participation by venturing out to the mall, visiting new friends (met through the warehouse project) and attending community special events. Sarah has become an active participant within our community services programming. She is building friendships and is taking these new relationships outside MODC while attending various community activities and other offerings. Sarah truly has expanded her social network and community participation which has increased her confidence, independence and inner wellness. With the support we have been able to offer her, Sarah has been able to successfully overcome some of the challenges her brain injury has dealt her. She is once again a happy, engaging and active young lady.
The United Way of Thunder Bay is addressing social issues in our community and investing in 3 critical areas: Moving people from poverty to possibility; Fostering a strong community; Helping kids to be all they can be. Your donations are improving lives for local people like Sarah every day. By donating to the 2014 United Way campaign you can support the MODC Volunteer/Community Service Program and 62 other local programs in our community. To learn more about the many agencies and programs supported by the United Way, and how you can make a difference by giving, please go to www.uwaytbay.ca or call 623-6420 today.
March of Dimes Canada is located at 237 Camelot Street and can be reached at 345-6595.
Written by Todd Kennedy, Access Services Coordinator at March of Dimes Canada