Inclusivity for Persons with Disabilities

Members of Community venture gather around table for board game
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National Accessibility Week, May 29-June 4, 2022, celebrates the valuable contributions and leadership of Canadians with disabilities and highlights the work of individuals, organizations and communities, who are removing barriers.

“As a society in Canada we have made significant steps toward inclusion and The Salvation Army, as part of the fabric of our country, is joining in on this journey. We continue to provide dignity and hospitality to those with disabilities in our programs and services. As we view each and every person as made in the image of God, it is our goal to value and welcome all people,” says Major Christine Johnston, director of spiritual and religious care, Broadview Village, Toronto.

The Salvation Army’s Community Venture program in Winnipeg is one location that has been providing day and residential programs, outreach and respite services, to women and men living with developmental and physical disabilities. Established in 1986 the program has evolved, grown and empowered countless individuals with disabilities to discover their goals and dreams.

“My teacher, Crystal, never gives up on me and it feels good.”

“I know I am different from my siblings,” says Stormy, 21. “I am just learning how to read. I like to come here, take out my book and work on my reading. My teacher, Crystal, never gives up on me and it feels good.”

Crystal Ryland is coordinator of the Community Venture Day Services-South.

“Community Venture started as a small program by a family service worker who recognized the need for services, and it was very shortly taken over by The Salvation Army,” says Crystal. “We have grown to six, day service locations, five, residential homes and an outreach department.

“Goals are something that we focus on every day,” continues Crystal. “It might be learning how to do a zipper up, warming a lunch or learning how to tell time. It really could be anything.

“Some have family and other social connections, but for many we are their community.”

“Like us, participants have dreams and aspirations. We all have different abilities and strengths. We are here to help them move closer to their goals and dreams. Some have family and other social connections, but for many we are their community.”

Derek is 45, loves to play snakes and ladders and excels at trivia.

“I have friends here and am excited to come,” says Derek. “Sometimes I like to talk about things.”

“I like to think that we are giving hope to our members,” says Crystal. “And integrating them into the community. We give them opportunities to learn, try new things, meet new people and stay busy. I think that’s important for everybody.”

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By Linda Leigh