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Life in community

Developing a life in community is possible for you. A good life is different for each person. Below are the stories of two people (Aida and Kyle). They have both engaged in the planning process with the help of their family and friends. Although their lives look very different, they are both enjoying a good life as citizens in their community.

Aida's Story as told by her mother Linguai

I can say with all honesty that I had not spent much time helping my daughter Aida dream. It seemed that life has always been busy and dreaming was a luxury that we had not afforded ourselves. This all changed during the planning process. I can not say enough about how creative and positive planning has been for Aida and our family.

Aida does not speak for herself. But she is very clear when something is not going well for her. It was also clear to us as her family that high school would not last forever. In fact, Aida would be finished high school in one year. It was time for us to begin to help Aida figure out what she would do when high school was finished.

At the suggestion of our facilitator, Aida (with me doing the talking) asked her brother, cousin and a family friend to help us figure out what Aida would do next year. Aida and I began to share a dream, that one day she would contribute to her community in a way that made sense to her and in a way that built on her gifts.

We struggled with naming her gifts and talents. Although each of us loved her dearly, we found it hard to figure out what Aida felt passionate about. With the help of others, we all agreed that Aida had a love and a passion for bananas, plastic, car rides, and her Mom. We also knew that Aida really liked to have people in her life. She was at her silly best when she was spending time with others. So over a few meetings we brainstormed all the possible ways that Aida could use her gifts. We thought we might need a list of a lot of ideas because the only way we would know for sure if our idea was a good fit for Aida is by her having the opportunity to try them out.

Ahead 18 months …

With the help of both paid and unpaid support, Aida has built a life for herself in community. Building on the passion and love for plastic and car rides and her need to have more relationships of her own, and providing Aida with the experience to try new things has been a good thing in Aida's life.

Meals on Wheels

She now is a volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Her worker drives for Aida. With her cousin's help, Aida asked an older woman who does not have a license if she would like to be a Meal on Wheels volunteer with Aida. They enjoy volunteering together.

Learning Centre

With the help of paid support, Aida waters the plants (with a plastic watering can of course!) at a learning centre. It is here that she met Dorada. She volunteers at the learning centre too! Dorada recently came to Aida's birthday party. They are still figuring out how to be with each other but you can tell that they like each other.

Recycling

Aida has become the neighbourhood recycling depot for the things that can not go in the weekly recycling box but can be recycled at the city depot. This is a chance for her to take care of the environment but also a chance to get to know her neighbours better. Aida and I both smile when the visitors to the neighbourhood also drop off their things.

A lot has happened for Aida and for us as her family. We know that Aida is happy and is able to use her passions and gifts to help others. She has more friends. And she has a group of people who are dedicated to helping her with planning. For Aida, this is a good life.

 

Kyle's Story (as told by him with the help of his brother)

I have been thinking about the Calgary Stampede ever since I saw my first cowboy movie and that was a long time ago. I kept telling people I was going to the Stampede but I never went. One day my brother Bob told me I was never going to the Stampede if I didn't get a job because you have to save money to go on a "trip of a lifetime."

When I was ten years younger, I wanted a job but it just never happened. This time was different because I needed a job. I needed money. My brother, his friend, my dad and two other friends (George and Michael) helped me think about things I could do and all the places I could get a job. I now had a plan and I was ready to take action.

When I went to my first interview I was so nervous. But I just told them I wanted to work because I needed money for "a trip of a lifetime." I got the job. Every day, I help a local farmer with his chores. I am good at this job. I always have someone working with me. I get to do different jobs depending on the day. I like working with the people at the farm and I think the job is okay too.

My brother got real worried that I would not save the money for my trip. His friend introduced me to a fellow at the credit union. Now every time I get paid I go to the credit union. That guy helps me put money into my "trip of a lifetime" account.

You know what? Liking cowboys has helped me get a job, get a special account and meet some new people. I went last summer to the Calgary Stampede with two friends, George and Michael. We went on an airplane and stayed in a hotel. We didn't sleep much either. You know what else? My brother was right. It is a lot easier to have a "trip of a lifetime" if you have a job, save money and have some friends who like cowboys too!