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Community Inclusion Month in Trail wraps up with a sharing of adventures

TACL has been providing support and services to people with diverse needs for over 65 years
Trail mom-adventurer shares her experiences hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with members of Trail Association for Community Living. Photo: Sheri Regnier

In a fitting way to start wrapping up Community Inclusion Month in Trail, last week mom-adventurer Darcee O’Hearn brought a fun and interactive presentation of her five-month expedition on the Pacific Crest Trail to members of Trail Association for Community Living (TACL).

O’Hearn and her three children hiked the 4200-kilometre trail — from the border of Mexico through ranges across the United States and ending in the Okanagan — through spring and summer this year.

In fact, O’Hearn presented to TACL members before she started her journey so they could follow her adventures along the way through live streams, YouTube videos and other social media posts the family was able to put up along the way.

And yes, her TACL fans had plenty of questions. They asked about the places she stopped, the sites, smells and sounds she experienced that when shared with the group, made the eager listeners feel like they were with her on the adventure.

Summarizing her experience O’Hearn said she learned a lot about herself during the arduous trek, like her true level of mental and physical perseverance, and her ability to tackle phobias like a fear of heights. And she shared some unexpected lessons picked up along the trail, like bartering with food and dealing with the existence of high altitude flatulence. (There is indeed such a condition, which prompted plenty of giggles).

But in the end, she said “it’s all about the people” as the mom reminisced by showing the many signatures of fellow hikers she had sign her backpack along the way.

Her insight “it’s all about the people” fittingly parallels Community Inclusion Month at Trail Association for Community Living.

It’s all about the people.

Community Inclusion Month

This is the 24th year the B.C. government has proclaimed October as Community Inclusion Month: a time to recognize the contributions and potential of people with developmental disabilities. It is also a time to recognize the families, friends, caregivers, volunteers, community groups and employers who make the province stronger by ensuring people who live with diverse abilities can fully participate in all aspects of life in their communities.

In 2010 the Canadian government agreed to follow the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This official document helps governments and communities protect the human rights of people with disabilities. Article 19 in the UNCRPD says people with disabilities have the right to live independently and be included in the community.

In 2018 the government of B.C. introduced the Re-Imagining Community Inclusion Initiative, which created a vision of inclusion through inclusive housing, employment, health and well-being, and self-determined Indigenous strategies.

Through decades of working with people with disabilities, their families, and the organizations that support them, Inclusion BC shares:

A thriving community requires the inclusion and participation of all its members and;

The inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society enables everyone to share their skills, talents, and cultures, and to secure their rightful place at home, work, school, and in the community.

About TACL

Trail Association for Community Living (TACL) has been providing support and services to people with diverse needs for over 65 years. In the early 1950’s many families from the Kootenays had children with diverse needs living in institutions throughout the province. There was a strong belief that these children could learn and live in their own community and the long distance made it very difficult for families to visit.

These were driving forces behind building a facility closer to home. The Kootenay Society for Handicapped Children was founded by Dr. W. J. Endicott, a member of the Trail community as well as families and volunteers to run a school for children with disabilities. The society continued to grow and change and was soon providing support and education as “The Maple School.”

Over the years, The Maple School transitioned from the “classroom” to a “workshop” for adults. The classroom was moved into Sunningdale school and continued with Katie Shaw as one of the teachers. Katie Shaw was a pioneer for establishing equality of living for individuals with disabilities.

During the 1980’s the workshop was relocated to the downtown area and was renamed Trail Contracting Services. Portland House, with support from the Kiwanis, was opened as a home to provide life skills training for individuals to live in the community. Soon after, Willow Place in Warfield opened its doors as a group home, launching a new era of at-home community care. Over the years, TACL has since opened three more homes and continues to grow.

A few years ago, TACL purchased property on Riverside Avenue and named it the Trail Association Activity Center, providing a home for TACL’s Day Program, child and youth programs and community support services. Career Development Services also came under the TACL umbrella providing employment services in the Trail area.

Most recent was the addition of the Community Inclusion Centre on Bay Avenue, a community space for groups and individuals to come together. The centre also houses the temporary shelter.

TACL continues to provide service and support to individuals and their families and advocates to enhance their quality of life, community acceptance and understanding.

Darcee O’Hearn with her appreciative fans at TACL. Photo: Submitted

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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