Since November 26, 1958, this agency has evolved from the Cornwall and District Association for Retarded Children, to the Cornwall and District Association for the Mentally Retarded, and then to Community Living Stormont County. With every name change, so have our services changed, our focus changed and so too did our role in the community. The decision to change the name was a direct result of lobbying by self-advocates who no longer wanted to be labeled. Their intensity in this matter had a profound effect on the agency moving forward. The name change marked the first of a series of exciting steps toward the development of programs that promoted community integration.
From the late 1950s to the mid-1990s segregated options were widely accepted and developed. The agency programs and individuals, were isolated from the rest of the community. Our role at the time was perceived to be that of protector. We were expected to gather together; look after a specific group of people; and to provide them with limited activities sometimes within clinical, sometimes second-grade settings. In general, we were expected to keep people safe and out of harm’s way. They were presumed to be happy and society was perceived to be providing them with everything they could want. This is no longer acceptable, nor is it the case.
Our agency has learned a great deal about the needs, wants and expectations of the people we support. We learned the services we were providing, needed to change. We realized there remains more to be learned, and there will always be more to learn. Over the years, we have determined that our role as advocates of integration is multi-faceted, multi-phased and very complex. Integration, is a lifelong learning process. No one agency could hope to meet the diverse needs of any one individual. If we are to enhance the lives and realize the goals that were established for and by the people we support it is absolutely necessary to work with other agencies and systems (e.g. educational, medical, recreational), community employers and generic services.
“The challenges facing us is simply not an expansion of current models and existing services, but rather, the challenge is to extend the boundaries of the community living movement beyond what we previously thought was possible, to the full inclusion of all citizens with developmental challenging conditions; and, to continue to move away from segregated settings and activities.”
We at Community Living – Stormont County continue to work in creating a community that is inclusive of all people.