|Photo Description: Students from the culinary arts program at Humber holding a plate with a fine looking burger and yummy looking fries.|
On Tuesday morning, the day after Labour Day, I was on the bus when we pulled to the curb in front of a building I didn't recognize. The driver put down the ramp and on to the bus came a young woman with an intellectual disability. She was travelling with her mother and it took a few seconds for the driver to get them both in and on. We all said our 'Hellos' and then lapsed into silence.
The silence didn't last long. Soon the young woman was talking about her excitement at starting her first day of college. She mentioned that she was going to the culinary arts program which is a collaboration between Humber College and Christian Horizons, an organization which serves people with intellectual disabilities.
I had followed the development of this program through updates on Facebook by a wonderful and vivacious woman, Irene Moore, who I have known on and off for many, many years. Irene often spoke of the vision of having this partnership and of the students getting real training of real value for real world employment through an opportunity for a real college experience. Her words, on her Facebook posts, came alive here, in the real world.
There was a day, not long ago, when it would have been impossible to even think about a person with an intellectual disabilities attending class at a college. There was a day, not long ago, when young people with intellectual disabilities looked to a future nearly barren of any hope for life or for work in a community to which they had membership.
The chatter on the bus between mom and daughter didn't have a disability framework, it was about college, it was about expectations, it was about hope. The fact of disability wasn't eliminated or eradicated or ignored, it just didn't have a place in what they talked about. It was the first day of a new stage of life. It was about nail polish. It was about fashion. It was about cell phones. It was about stepping off the bus and on to a college campus.
I heard about the vision from Irene on Facebook.
I got to see what that vision lead to in real time in real life.
What a thrill.
Congratulations Christian Horizons, congratulations Irene, you may never see what I saw -- bus ride, on the first day of school, with a young woman excited about her life and bursting to get at it.
Not incompatible terms.