What does it mean to have personalized funding? How do things change if you receive funding that comes directly to you? How does it impact your self-esteem and how does it add to diversity and inclusion of the greater community?
My son and daughter both have developmental disabilities and they both have direct funding through the Passport program. This funding enables them to have personal goals, work with people they choose and be a part of environments that stimulate them and appreciate their contribution.
Direct funding is transforming over time. It begins with good planning based on a person’s likes and dislikes and develops into a person taking on more decisions and relationships over time. It’s about growth, experimentation and change.
We all know change is the one constant in life and why should that be any different for a person with a developmental disability than it is for anyone else?
Opportunities in life such as different jobs, sports, learning experiences can be the same for everyone thanks to direct funding. This kind of funding is the key to opening doors and growth for our sons and daughters.
My son Jesse has Down syndrome and uses sign language and augmentative communication to speak. Once he was granted direct funding he was able to hire assistants who if they did not already have it, learned sign language to assist him in jobs that would not be open to him any other way. Accompanied by his assistant, Jesse has had jobs as diverse as working for the mayor of Hamilton to teaching drama students in high school how to sign. He has had jobs in grocery stores and food banks and made friends everywhere he has worked and volunteered.
Like most parents, I want my son to have valued experiences where he feels a sense of belonging and purpose. This happens when he is included in community. The places where Jesse volunteers are filled with people who befriend him and support him. They are not paid people but good citizens who welcome him and respect him. There is no special building or door that he goes through and is missing for many hours of a day. He is with his friends and neighbours and they miss him when he’s not there.
Direct funding takes us from exclusion to inclusion; it takes us from invisibility to recognition; it takes us from loneliness to friends; from idleness to valued roles; from being apart to Belonging.