The times they are a-changin’ – again.
The Shuswap Association for Community Living has found a buyer for their property at 4590 10th Ave. SW.
The new owner will take possession March 1 so SACL will be looking for new digs downtown.
The move means the association will be giving up their Environmental Solutions program that employs several clients with intellectual disabilities.
While she admits some of the older clients are anxious about losing the recycling program, SACL executive director Jo-Anne Crawford says changes are being made to better reflect current client needs.
“There are no young people coming into the (sheltered) programs anymore,” she says. “They are coming out of high school and have made it very clear they don’t want to be working in sheltered workshops. They want to be out in the community, they want to be with friends, to be working, volunteering, going to school, to live in their own places.”
Crawford says there was anxiety too, when, several years ago, the province closed institutions, and services moved to sheltered programs.
“And now the whole thinking about disabled people has really changed,” she says. “Most of the people we support now are supported in community. They don’t get programs here, they get support to live alone, receive help with grocery shopping, budgeting, socializing, going out and finding things that interest them…”
Crawford says the recreation program has become a health and wellness program – another reflection of clients’ requests to have meaningful programming.
“Working with a consultant, parents and caregivers, we asked them what they valued,” Crawford says of a recent meeting. “At the core of it was belonging in the community and everything that revolves around that.”
Crawford adds, that, like most people, clients feel good about volunteering and that SACL has a strong volunteer program.
“They said they don’t want to be entertained; they want to come away at the end of the day, knowing their time was well-spent,” she says. “We’re heading off into new territory and this will give an opportunity to the community to continue their relationship with the people and allow the community to see more of the clients,” she says.
As giving up the paper recycling program, Crawford says the province’s mandate for producers to take cradle-to-grave responsibility for their packaging will mean companies with large capacities will be needed, says Crawford.
“We simply don’t have the capacity,” she says. “Our plan is to move into the downtown core and to bring that program we would need a larger space. And because we know it’s going to shrink and shrink and shrink, we’re making the move at this time.”
Crawford insists current sheltered clients will continue to be well-supported during the day and SACL is hoping to find jobs for many more clients. Some clients already work anywhere from one to 20 hours per week.
But for some of the sheltered clients who may not be able to fit into other employment options, losing the pay they receive through the recycling program is a real concern.
“What we’re hoping is the people who have been our customers will continue to have them (clients) visit by hiring them,” she says, noting staff members are ready to meet with employers to find suitable paid work that benefits clients and businesses.
If you or your business can provide paid opportunities to clients, call SACL’s employment services at 250-832-7665.