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Community belonging project launches in qathet region

New team sets forth with range of projects
2735_city of powell river

The qathet region has a long and varied history of initiatives designed by, with and for children, youth and adults with disabilities.

While there are many successes worth celebrating, there remain very real barriers that need to be addressed. An example is child care, which remains in short supply for all children, but is extremely challenging to access for families raising young children with disabilities and complex health conditions who are systematically excluded.

Families’ quality of life, mental wellness and opportunities for employment, community involvement and recreation are all impacted when they are unable to access child care.

The Accessible British Columbia Act is a promising new legislative tool that could have the potential to actively shift the underlying ableism that is embedded in many mindsets, services, institutions and spaces. Addressing ableism is something to which we can all contribute.

To better understand and support the participation and belonging of young children with visible and invisible disabilities and/or medical complexity in our region, a newly formed qathet Community Belonging Team is launching a range of community-based projects in 2024. Bringing different perspectives to this work, the team is made up of Janet Newbury and Alison Gerlach (University of Victoria researchers), Meriko Kubota (Vancouver Coastal Health senior policy lead for healthy public policy), and Tabatha Berggren (parent researcher). Three members of this team live in qathet.

One project they are launching is called the Community Belonging Project.

The Community Belonging Team signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with City of Powell River on November 16, 2023. The MoU sets out that the team will undertake an environmental scan with a specific focus on belonging and participation of children with disabilities and their families in the qathet region, and this work will be actively driven by project advisors who have lived experience with disability.

The MoU also sets out that the city will take the learning from this environmental scan into consideration in the development of its forthcoming Official Community Plan.

It is hoped that this initial project will provide a starting point for us all to better understand the status quo so that recommendations and next steps for enhancing community belonging and participation can be informed and deliberate.

For more information about the Community Belonging Team and its work, go to the Community Belonging Facebook page or connect with project coordinator Janet Newbury at newburyj@uvic.ca.

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