Stacey and Julie are two young women and both of them delight in the independence that living in their own place provides. Each previously lived at River Road Place. About 40 years ago, St.Amant’s first community residence was built and Stacey moved in. Though she has multiple disabilities and can’t walk, she leads a full and busy life despite her challenges. She insists on getting around the house on her own, without a wheelchair which takes a lot of time and effort. “It gives me a feeling of independence and accomplishment,” she says.
She loves to bake and is able to, with her pommel walker. The walker supports her in an upright position as she chops and mixes. Kelly, her key worker helps her manage her own laundry and other household tasks.
Stacey has a full-time job at the Norshel Centre, where last year, she proudly received an award for 15 years’ service.
Julie just recently moved in with Stacey. She too has multiple disabilities and is non-verbal.
The transition from River Road Place was tricky at times but a gradual move enabled things to go smoothly. The house had to be modified in order to make it accessible for Julie and to ensure her safety. She now attends an adult day program three days a week at St.Amant’s River Road Place, where she enjoys music, swimming and cooking programs and delights in reconnecting with friends.
“Julie’s goal was to live on her own. She had a lot of challenges but the support she received from River Road Place was incredible. It really eased her way into community living,” says Verna, Julie’s mom. “She’s blooming as a result of her move to community living, and loves the ability to make her own choices.” Mom has noticed new changes in her daughter since Julie and Stacey have become housemates. For example, Julie is slowly recovering her speech. “I hadn’t heard her voice in so long. She’s feeling more compelled to try different things in her new place like singing and it’s causing unusual breakthroughs.”
“It’s great not only for me but for the entire family. Though we loved River Road Place, it’s tough to find a place to spend time alone with your child. Now, Julie feels she has her own home, just like her older sisters; not just a place she’s living in.”
“You know,” Verna says, “young people with disabilities want to go through the same rites of passage as everyone else. They want friends; want movie nights with them. They want to move out, explore the world, be involved in the whole human experience. As the baby of the family, Julie is spoiled and a bit of a tease. Living on her own is stretching her limits in a good way. It’s not always easy but it’s healthy.”