Thursday, September 10, 2015

What's Cooking???

CulinaryProgram_April2015_snapdEtobicoke_RobAllen
Photo Description: Students from the culinary arts program at Humber holding a plate with a fine looking burger and yummy looking fries.
It's September, so it's busy on the bus again. During the summer there are fewer people up early in the morning so I often travel alone. But BAM! come September that changes. I get to meet, and chat, with some new people. I enjoy it. Not only does it make the ride go faster, I listen and learn from others who experience and live with various disabilities.

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.

Community.

Disability

Not incompatible terms.

3 comments:

Belinda Burston said...

Wow, Dave, how awesome that you had this opportunity to meet a person with a disability on her way to college on your ride to work in such a wonderful way. I know how this vision has gripped Irene and her drive and determination to make it a reality. She isn't stopping with Humber College either, but has a wider vision that every college will embrace this need and right for people with intellectual disabilities to have post secondary education and build real skills for real jobs. Yes, congratulations to Irene and to Christian Horizons as well as Humber College, for paving the way to a greater future for people with intellectual disabilities!!

clairesmum said...

The energy of new beginnings is wonderful...and a lovely synchronicity for you to get to observe this moment of transition for a young woman who has this opportunity largely due to the work that you and Irene and others are doing. I wonder if she will be on your bus again....

Helen said...

There was a great programme here in Scotland called The Engine Shed which allowed people with intellectual disabilities to get experience & qualifications in the catering industry. They had their own café & bakery where the students could be more supported at the start before moving on to placements & employment in the community. Sadly their council funding was withdrawn last year & the project folded after many years & many successful trainees. So short sighted of the council