Sandy Keshen, CEO, REENA: REENA is a social services agency providing services to persons with developmental delay. It services children, adults and seniors.

Joy Okpiaifo, Graduate of REENA's Developmental Disabilities Counsellor (DDC) Program: So we will come back with some more if we need to. Are you okay with that? It is not too heavy, is it? Is it okay?

My name is Joy Okpiaifo and I work here at the day program — REENA day program supporting Norman with his daily activities, finding out about all activities that are going out there in the community. Fact that I did the DDC program actually gave me a lot of edge.

Georgia Quartaro, Dean, George Brown College, DDC Program partner with REENA: The program is a four-month intensive program in which the students take several courses. These students do two placements as part of the four-month program. They do an initial unpaid — more observational placement — and they do a paid agency placement near the end of their training.

Joy Okpiaifo: Within a period of two months, you get to learn so much. By the time I graduated from the course in February 2006, I had, I think, pretty much all the knowledge I needed to support these guys and all the skills that would make working with them, you know, very easy for me.

Susan Edwards, Manager, Montage Support Services (developmental services agency): We have a number of students who went through the program that we have hired at Montage and they have done very, very well. The students that we have and the past students and the present students they've actually developed in leaps and bounds and regards to teaching the community about the people that we are supporting. They are educating the people in the schools, things in the churches, in recreation, social events. They are out there.

On March 31, 2009, the Government of Ontario closed the province's last three institutions for people with a developmental disability.

With help from developmental support workers and agencies like REENA, Ontario communities are becoming more inclusive.

Sandy Keshen: As we begin to look at the influence of our sector in terms of world change, we need to have experienced staff who care, understand and can provide clearer supports.

Georgia: Seeing the value of people who have different abilities and wanting those lives to be as full, as rich, as independent as they can be … that is a very important personal value for me and this program really embodies that.

Joy: Seeing them, getting a smile from them because they do know when you are supporting them. I think, in their own way, they appreciate that, too. And as much as they may not be able to express that, that smile, that joy in their face, that happiness that comes across, for me, that's very important. That's just enough for me.

Can I get some more water? Very good.

Learn more

About the history of developmental services in Ontario: From institutional to community living

Services and supports for people with a developmental disability: Services provided by community agencies