On the way… to independence

An innovative project to help handicapped youth become more independent and active


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55, av. Mont-Royal ouest bur.303 Montréal, Qc H2T 2S6
QA Qatar
Web http://www.spina.qc.ca/


About the project Edit

Strengthened by its “On the way… to an active life” camp experience, the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Quebec has decided to launch a year-long program to develop independence among young people who have spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus between the ages of 16 and 30.

The project’s goal is to help about a hundred young people acquire the necessary knowledge and tools that will allow them to have a more independent and active adult life.

Due to their handicap and multiple handicaps in some cases, young people affected by spina bifida and/or hydrocephalous have difficulty becoming independent. Many still live with their families; others live in CHSLD’s, long-term residential care centres.

Parents often worry about who will look after their adult children if something happens to them. Everyone knows that the environment of a CHSLD is not really conducive to the well-being of young people.

W want to, therefore, support young people by giving them the possibility to develop skills that will help them live in an apartment, do sports and take an interest in the job market.

The project will take the form of workshops and life experiences.

We think we can get a hundred young people in the Montreal region to join. The project will have a direct impact on young people’s families and their close environment, so we count about 800 people in all will join.

Recruiting youth will be done in partnership with other rehabilitation centres that we know well, centres where young people will be regularly monitored. Workshops are lead by network counsellors in health and social services, but young people will also be matched with peers who are a little bit more advanced than themselves in their quest for independence. At the same time, this buddy system helps us create part-time jobs and be able to provide an initial professional experience for youth.

Counsellors from the rehabilitation centres can present the project to young people and test their motivations since we will be asking them for a commitment to the project. They will be able to set objectives to develop during the project’s existence. These objectives will be regularly reviewed during the year.

The strength of our program is that young people are really part of their own success by setting objectives first of all, then by working on the ways to achieving them and by regularly evaluating themselves.

They participate in very practical workshops that really bring them into everyday life: making a budget, nutrition, interpersonal relationships, adapted behaviour, professional orientation, safety and cyber safety, physical and adapted sports activities, personal hygiene and learning daily tasks that often represent a huge challenge for these young people.

There are all kinds of ways of introducing activities to young people, but we really do mix workshops with experiences. We want the whole thing to be dynamic and fun for young people who want to spend time together and also with us.

Nous voulons aussi bien cuisiner que visiter des entreprises dans lesquelles les jeunes peuvent découvrir des métiers intéressants, faire du ski, apprendre à communiquer de manière respectueuse dans nos relations amoureuses, apprendre à gérer notre argent au quotidien aussi bien que de faire un curriculum vitae, visiter des musées et jardiner !

We also want to cook well, visit businesses where young people can discover interesting trades, go skiing, learn to communicate in a respectful manner in their love lives, learn to manage their money on a daily basis, as well as write a résumé, visit museums and garden!

Young people who have lived the “On the way” experience camp for 12 days are asking for more because this experience has really made a difference in their lives and have helped them establish connections, as they themselves say, “for life” with other young people. We are sure that having such a project all year long will have a more positive impact on young people, their families and their communities, but above all, young people are proud of their accomplishments!

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

This project is unique and part of a global approach. Thanks to it, young handicapped people are brought to explore their full potential and to realize that they can be independent and adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. The project reassures parents who were worried of their children’s future and also allows them to see facets of their children that they did not know.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

By becoming more independent, young people are more inclined to participate in community life. They are the catalyst of social change. We will also provide the opportunity for young people who are already more independent to become mentors for the younger people of the project. These youth feel less isolated and weave the social connections and essential friendships between them.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Our incubator is located in Montreal, but we are a provincial association with partners and regional agents throughout Quebec. This project has a huge potential for development and expansion across the entire province. There are 9,000 people living with spina bifida and hydrocephalous in Quebec and they are not well served in large urban centres liked Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke. It is important to bring everyone together and to ensure that they all benefit from adequate services.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

We came up with this project by listening to parents’ concerns regarding their children’s future, but also by seeing the positive effect that the “On the way… towards an active life” camp had on young people. This 12-day summer camp allows them to test their independence and develop a vision of what their life could be if they develop some skills and are properly equipped. This experience also had a positive and significant impact on young people’s social lives.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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