Supporting the exploration of Citizenship & Disability
This area of Project Citizenship is a collection of photographs, thoughts and short stories from diverse people who care about citizenship and have been willing to share what they think supports it.
What does engaged citizenship mean to you?
“It means to be social with different people throughout the city—being social with friends, co-workers, family and meeting new people.”
If you could call yourself five years ago and only had 30 seconds, what would you say?
“I would tell myself to work on my credit and to try and prevent it from going south. I would also tell myself to try harder to get employed and to get a steady income. Last, I would remind myself to engage, work and socialize with good people while avoiding the negative ones.”
What do you like most about your community and what do you like least?
“I like going to the Abbotsfield Learning Centre. This is where I am furthering my education in reading, writing and math. They also teach computer classes. People who want to get their learner’s permit can take classes there as well. Besides the staff, I think the volunteers there are great!”
“The services provided by ETS (busses and trains) is something I like the least about my community. I am not impressed with the whole concept of dogs being in kennels while they are on trains and busses. In Calgary, there is no kennel requirement for dogs to ride on the busses and trains. They only require the owner to pay the adult fare for the dogs.”
What is something you have recently accomplished that you are proud of?
“I was at the ultrasound with my girlfriend and I found out the gender of my baby!”
What changes do you think can be done to make your community more accessible to people with disabilities?
More busses for Disabled Adult Transit Services (DATS) because the city lacks this big time… I see a lot of people in busses with wheelchairs… As I mentioned earlier, I think it would be more beneficial for the ETS to allow pet owners to public transit with their dog and to simply pay an adult fare for their pet. Dog owners could take their pet on trains and buses and the ETS would profit too… ETS is losing out on millions of dollars by not allowing this. More importantly, it makes it challenging for pet owners [especially those with disabilities] to go to the vet, dog park, airport, an appointment somewhere or simply to meet with other pet owners. I think using the Calgary system would make the community more accessible.
Larry James is a passionate dog owner and a soon-to-be father! Larry looks forward to purchasing his own vehicle and obtaining his class 4 driver’s license from the Abbotsfield Learning Centre. He aims to provide transportation services for pet owners with large dogs. In Larry’s free time he likes to walk his dog Cerberus (an American blue-nose pit bull) and spend quality time with his girlfriend. Larry has been with Skills since June 2013. With the support of Larry’s Community Support Worker, Larry has been able to find the appropriate resources to help him achieve his goals.
What does engage citizenship mean to you?
“Engaged citizenship is a process of reciprocal enrichment connecting a person to a group, a thing or a place.”
How does one become an engaged citizen?
“It’s important to investigate one’s strengths and interests. Once you have a grasp of those strengths and interests, it is then important to actualize them in a manner that will align with like-minded others.”
How can we improve our community and demonstrate what it means to be a good citizen?
“I think you gotta respect the process of identifying areas of interest and ‘sweat the small stuff.’ By ‘sweat the small stuff’ I mean you need to hone your craft and pay attention to the little things—especially if you are starting from scratch. You should always look for ways to meet new people and to collaborate on new projects. There is always opportunity for the small buds of engagement to bloom into rewarding and fulfilling collaborations.”
If you could call yourself five years ago and had 30 seconds, what would you say to yourself?
“Winning lottery numbers!… Get used to knowing less and asking more.”
What do you like the most about your community?
“I live in the Highlands, a mature part of the city. I really appreciate old and preserved things. Some of the old and diverse architecture you see in my neighbourhood is absolutely beautiful. I like how no two houses look the same… You can tell that even though these houses are old they are cherished and incredibly maintained. There is a sense of preservation there and a sense of pride, which is really unique… I like that one house will have a purple door and a yellow chimney. I really love that aspect because it spices up the [community]. It reveals a unique piece of history that [often] may not be identified.”
Chris Bruce is a Manager of Community Supports at Skills Society. He brings a wealth of experience to his work and values the opportunity to lead and support the good works of teams who provide direct support to people with disabilities. Chris can often be found collaborating with others in pursuit of bettering the supports of people with disabilities. You will know that he is truly engaged in a conversation when you see him twisting his beard into a frenzy! Chris loves playing music with friends and spending time with his wife and their two furry children June and Lenny.
What does citizenship mean to you?
Being collectively connected to something!
How do you help people to become better engaged in their community?
I run hockey workshops. Hockey allows youth to learn life skills such as teamwork, leadership, dedication, time management and how to play fair.
How do you think people could be more welcoming to EVERYONE in their communities?
I think learning to respect others people’s opinions, beliefs, and values is a great start to experiencing other communities outside your own.
Community is the foundation of our lives, having a strong relationship with your community will build relationships that benefit both yourself, and others.
This Citizen Speak is brought to you by one of our community allies (Samantha Jackson) who was taking a course on developing Citizenship and Community Connections for people with disabilities through the Excel Academy. Over the course of spring 2014, Samantha set out to explore and document what people in Edmonton think being an engaged citizen means and how we can get better at it.
Lisa participated in the Citizen Action Hall at the U of A and shared her insights and experience as the class explored the intersection of citizenship and disability.
How do you think you could use your abilities to better the community or demonstrate being a good citizen?
I overcame my disabilities to get a job, they always include me in parades & everything, I’m the only girl”
What’s something you’d like to say to people with disabilities?
“Do your best! There’s always hope!”