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VIDEO: Difficulties individuals with diverse abilities face

It's Community Living Month.

This is an important month for the Pathways Abilities Society. Community Living Month is dedicated to promoting equality and acceptance between people with diverse abilities and those without. There is a persistent stigma in society that limits individuals with diverse abilities from getting jobs, interacting with the community and living a normal life.

In an interview with KelownaNow, Shelley DeCoste from Pathways and Community Living BC shared her personal experiences as an individual with diverse abilities.

"I live with cerebral palsy. I deal with muscle spasms, tremors, this amazing accent I have... I find if I can make fun of my diverse ability, it hopefully makes people more accepting and understanding of what it's like to live with a diverse ability," DeCoste explains.

The biggest problem is the misconceptions and stereotypes about individuals with diverse abilities. People assume that they won’t show up for work, they'll be sick or can’t do tasks. What people don't see is that individuals with diverse abilities have many unique strengths and want to be involved.

Pathways Abilities Society is very committed to realizing our vision of “welcome…building communities that support and value the diverse-abilities of all people," and is dedicated to helping people with diverse abilities lead fulfilling and independent lives. Every person with a diverse ability is on his or her own pathway. Pathways job is to walk with them and provide them with the support they need to achieve their goals, whether it be with employment, volunteer work, community participation or housing.

The non-profit works closely with a number of employers to promote employment opportunities for individuals with diverse abilities in the workforce to create a mutually beneficial partnership for both the employer and employee through Integrated Career Opportunities (ICO).

DeCoste knows exactly what it's like to make the transition to employment and now is employed at Community Living BC which is the main source of funding for Pathways.

“I don’t feel like I’m a burden to society. I’m giving back, I’m happy to pay my taxes and bills,” she says.

If you didn't know that October is Community Living Month or usually think about it, we ask you to give it some thought. Is there room for an individual with diverse abilities at your workplace?

For more information about Pathways and their initiatives, email ed@pathwayskelowna.ca.

If you are interested in learning more about ICO and employing an individual with diverse abilities, email em@pathwayskelowna.ca.



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