One week after Ontario closed the last three government-run institutions for people with a developmental disability, the Inspiring Possibilities photo exhibit was opened to the public.
Over 200 people gathered at the Allen Lambert Galleria in downtown Toronto for the opening of the exhibit. Over the last two years, 28 photographers travelled across Ontario to capture the achievements and contributions of people with a developmental disability, and the close bonds that are made through community living.
Inspiring Possibilities is the result of a partnership between 25 Community Living Associations and PhotoSensitive, a collective of photographers from across Canada and the world who explore issues that affect social well-being and how photography contributes to social justice.
"The project aims to educate the public, bringing stories to life through the faces of those who receive help from organizations like Community Living," says PhotoSensitive co-founder Andrew Stawicki.
Speaking to the audience on opening night, Minister of Community and Social Services, Madame Meilleur said, "The photos tell the story of a fully inclusive Ontario where every person with a developmental disability has opportunities to belong."
Every year, the Ontario Government, along with partners like local Community Living associations and organizations, helps more than 40,000 people with developmental disabilities.
Community living is a movement that gives people with developmental disabilities a voice. The aim is to help people with developmental disabilities live as independently as possible within their communities and to provide support to their families.
Lisa Tuckwell, the subject in two photos, is a self-advocate and has a very active life. She works at Winners on Mondays. When Lisa is not working she visits Community Living or helps her mother at home — cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.
Lisa enjoys being a part of her community. "I like working on the floor (at a retail store) because everyone gets to know you," she says. "They have friendly faces and make you feel happy inside."
As the exhibit travels throughout the province, Bruce Rivers, Chief Executive Officer of Community Living Toronto, hopes that it will stimulate conversation and be a catalyst for people to talk about the lives of people with developmental disabilities and how inspiring they are.
The participants hope that Inspiring Possibilities will raise awareness and acceptance of people with a developmental disability in their communities.
For more information about Photosensitive, visit www.photosensitive.com.