Thursday, 14 September 2017 06:53

Sask. Abilities Council celebrates renovations at Swift Current branch

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Andy Livingston, the president of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council provincial board of directors, speaks during the formal program at the grand re-opening celebration for the Swift Current branch, Sept. 8. Andy Livingston, the president of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council provincial board of directors, speaks during the formal program at the grand re-opening celebration for the Swift Current branch, Sept. 8.

The renovations at the Swift Current branch of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council were revealed at an open house and grand re-opening celebration, Sept. 8.

This celebration was the culmination of a number of activities during the week, which was proclaimed as Saskatchewan Abilities Week by the City of Swift Current. The renovations to the Swift Current branch building, located at 1551 North Railway Street West, started last fall. According to Saskatchewan Abilities Council Regional Director Kimi Duzan the renovations had a practical purpose, but the goal was also to create a more welcoming atmosphere.
“We cleaned out some ventilation, we did a lot of extra work in the yard, we put in new kitchen cabinets,” she said. “So there was a lot that was done. It was about a $100,000 renovation that made a safer, welcoming, more aesthetically pleasing environment.”
The interior walls have been repainted in a vibrant new colour scheme and large photographs are displayed along the hallway walls to show the involvement of individuals with disabilities in the community.
“I think the photographs are the highlight of our building, because they tell the stories,” she said. “So over time less work is being done in this building by people with disabilities and more volunteering, more employment in the community, but we also want our building to be warm and welcoming and pleasant. Some of the things we did had to do with health and safety, some of them had to do with making it a pleasant environment.”
The organization provides programs and services to about 50 individuals in the building, but it has a wide ranging impact in the community. It provides employment to more than 60 people at various locations, including the SARCAN depot, the recycle depot, the day program, the operation of transit services in the city, and the Partners in Employment program.
The goal of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council in Swift Current is to assist people with disabilities to be active members of the broader community. It has resulted in a far greater focus by the organization on community involvement and engagement.
“People with disabilities, young people in particular in the system, don’t necessarily want to come to a place,” she said. “They want to be involved in the community, they want a job, they want to contribute. So that’s a big shift and that’s true of our whole sector, but I think we’re leading edge here in our community and in our province.”
There was a brief program during the grand re-opening celebration with a number of guest speakers. Cypress Hills MLA Doug Steele thanked the Saskatchewan Abilities Council for its commitment to people with disabilities and for its leadership to create a more responsive and respectful community for everyone.
“The Saskatchewan Abilities Council has embraced the culture of person centred thinking, and by offering programming tailored to help persons achieve their roles while taking their needs and wishes into account,” he said. “It’s a fantastic standard. Using person centred planning to enhance quality of life is all about dignity. This is an inclusive and respectful approach.”
He noted that participants are able to achieve what they want to achieve, because they have the choice. They can realize their own goals and live their life the way they want. He referred to some of the local success stories of the organization.
“The volunteers in the community program, implemented last year, has been a wonderful success, engaging more than 40 participants in their community,” he said. “The youth employment program was launched earlier this year for young people to develop skills and to obtain and to maintain employment.”
Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault said the City's goal is to promote a safe and caring community for all residents. He expressed appreciation towards the Saskatchewan Abilities Council for being a true partner in achieving that goal.
“I truly just want to say thank you as well to Kimi,” he mentioned. “It’s not just paint on the walls around here. I know there’s a revitalization going on and there’s an absolute inclusiveness across Swift Current. I know you’re working together with companies to bridge a gap and to bring employers and potential employees together. So we’re very thankful for that.”
Andy Livingston, the president of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council provincial board of directors, noted that the Swift Current branch has been serving the community for more than five decades.
“It is important that all the services available at the branch are client centred and self determining,” he said. “It is our hope that the renovations that we are unveiling today include an environment where we all feel valued and included. As a board this is important to us.”
He expressed appreciation towards the City of Swift Current as well as the provincial and federal governments for partnering with the Saskatchewan Abilities Council. He also thanked local businesses and organizations for providing opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
“The branch is a place that brings everyone’s investments together,” he said. “It may be difficult to measure the impact of these investments in dollars and cents, but clearly by today the results are powerful. As each of us grow to trust and respect the contributions of others, the bonds that can make community, grow stronger every day.”

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Matthew Liebenberg


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