Families driving change won’t wait

Association for Community Living executive director speaks out

How is it that the “crisis in community living” remains such a sustained conversation in BC? People from all walks of life are speaking out and weighing in, saying it is unacceptable that people with developmental disabilities and their families are denied even the most basic of services.

The crisis in community living has stirred something significant in us, demanding immediate action and decisive leadership. In many ways it has become the barometer of how we are doing in BC, striking a fundamental chord of justice and fairness.

So again, we must ask why this issue and why now? The answer is both simple and profound. It is the relentless and resolute voice of families who know their sons and daughters with developmental disabilities deserve good lives. They are like other families who love and want the best for their children, but unique in a few very remarkable ways.

As we have been reminded over the past months, families of children with developmental disabilities are all too frequently called upon to be courageous in the face of intimidation, unwilling to accept inadequate resources and endless wait lists. They take their stories to the streets, insisting on leading what has become an incredible public conversation. They demand accountability from governments and decision makers. We must be more than witnesses to their struggles. We are called to join with them as activists.

Since the birth of the BC Association for Community Living in 1955 as a non-profit, non-government advocacy organization, the power of families coming together is undeniable. Families refuse to be sidelined, not in 1955 and not in 2011.

BCACL, as a voice of families, continues to call for an external review of Community Living BC, the Crown corporation that funds supports and services. The question is, how much longer must families wait?

Faith Bodnar

executive director, B.C. Association for

Community Living