Last week, I attended the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living’s second annual inclusion luncheon. I went last year as well, and the dedication and warmth of the people involved in this organization is evident from the moment you walk into the room.
I was fortunate to be invited to sit at a friend’s table and I enjoyed the camaraderie the table and the warm welcome from the organizers. I realized that I didn’t really know a lot about the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living and the more I learned as the luncheon went on, the more I appreciated the good work they do.
The first thing that SACL employees and volunteers always make clear is that they don’t believe that people with intellectual disabilities should be housed in institutions. Over the years, they have fought very hard against this practice and proudly “show off” their success stories. They believe that people with intellectual disabilities should be able to live, work and be housed in the same manner as everyone else. SACL wants them to be accepted into society and allowed the freedom that everyone else enjoys.
SACL offers crisis support, public education, advocacy work and workshops for families of those with intellectual disability. As well, SACL offers help with employment and transition support. The area in which SACL is now focusing a great deal of effort is in finding employment. Seventy-five percent of people with intellectual disabilities are not employed. SACL believes that with proper support, most could be responsible and productive employees.
During the luncheon, a slide show was shown which showed individuals living in the community, working, and leading productive lives. Some talked about life in an institution and how much better life is for them now. The last institution is Valley View in Moose Jaw and SACL has been very involved in helping residents move out of an institutional environment to living with more freedom. There were stories of people enjoying their new life and being a part of the community. The smiles and laughter show that SACL is on the right track. For those who have been institutionalized for many years, the transition is difficult but SACL is right there with them, helping them start their new life.
Gloria Mahussier from Prince Albert is the president of the provincial organization and her husband Mike Mahussier is the president of the local chapter. They became involved with SACL almost thirty years ago soon after their son was born. When it became clear that their son had an intellectual
disability, the young couple was advised to send him to Valley View Centre to live an institutionalized life. Luckily, the Mahussier’s discovered SACL which helped them provide their son with a better life. He is now thirty years old and is a vibrant young man who is well known throughout the community. I think he is the best ambassador SACL could have.