But do you remember being asked what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Well if you grew up with mental or physical illness, there’s a very good chance that no one ever asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. No one asks the kid who hears voices and screams for hours and hours everyday if they want to be an electrician or a paralegal.
When many people come to Community Living Centres, they’ve never been asked what they want to do. More importantly, they’ve never been exposed to the sorts of life experiences that might be available to them. Often, once we’ve established a safe, stable and well-supported environment, we work with our residents to ensure that they have a distinct sense of agency in their lives.
For us, life is about living. This means a wide variety of opportunities that might be as simple as riding the bus or choosing ingredients for a salad or walking a dog. These seemingly simple life experiences allow individuals who’ve never felt a sense of control in their life to begin to form friendships, relationships and ideas about what they might want to pursue in life. From there, people can begin to find purpose and direction in their lives through establishing goals and pursuing dreams.
Once people begin to understand that they have opportunities to “live”, it is difficult to contain their enthusiasm for discovery and their joy in discovering. We believe that this idea of life-tasting should be the goal of any organization that serves and supports people and it is a guiding principle in how Community Living Centres work.