When Mark Miller first came to Community Living Toronto, he had a long list of things he hoped to accomplish. He wanted to learn how to take public transit so he could travel around the city. He wanted to find a job somewhere meaningful for him. And more than anything, he wanted to live independently in his own apartment. Through the person-directed planning process, Mark was not only able to identify his goals, but to access the right supports in order to achieve them.
“The person-directed planning process is extremely important to individuals with intellectual disabilities,” explains Kathy Simoes from Community Living Toronto. “A person-directed plan really helps us learn about the individual, about their dreams and about the supports that are needed for them to be successful in achieving those goals.”
For Mark, that meant being supported in several ways. First, Community Living Toronto provided him with transit training so he could learn how to take the bus, streetcar and subway, and also learn how to map out his route. Then, they found him a volunteer placement at The Big Carrot, a local organic retail store, where they provided him with coaching to help him learn the job. His volunteer placement went so well in fact, that The Big Carrot hired him as a cashier assistant. From there, Community Living Toronto helped Mark develop his living skills by providing training on things like home safety, cleaning, meal planning, cooking, budgeting and time management. It wasn’t long before Mark was ready to move in to his own apartment, and he’s proud to say he now lives independently.
“I achieved living in a nice apartment,” says Mark. “And I really like living there because it’s a beautiful building. I have my very own space.”
Kathy says Mark was given the right tools and the right amount of time to help him develop, and because of that, has been able to achieve every single one of his goals. Thanks to the person-directed planning process, Mark is now flourishing. He wants to continue to participate in his community and outline new goals for himself and the steps required to get there.
“Having an active role in society is invaluable,” says Kathy. “So it’s just about making sure that we’re hearing the reasons and the goals and the choices that people have to help them plan for their futures.”