Group Homes Are People’s Homes

I could write about how Doug Ford’s comments on a group home showed he was ignorant, selfish, and a shameless liar. I might as well write water is wet. Doug’s comments were despicable and the worst kind of populist fear mongering. In other words, exactly what you would expect to hear from him. I don’t need an entire blog post to write how I feel about Doug’s comments, 140 characters was more than enough.

I’d rather write about the people organizations like the Griffin Centre support. As I’ve written before I volunteer with Community Living Toronto, and have seen firsthand what a valuable service they provide. I’ve seen how inclusion in the community benefits the community every bit as much as it does the people included. Most importantly I have seen that the best way to treat people with an intellectual disability is also the simplest way, as people.

That’s what seems lost in some of the outrage over the comments made regarding the Griffin Centre. The remarks were as offensive as they were untrue but worse was their tone. With comments like “No one told me they’d be leaving the house” it isn’t hard to imagine these people don’t think of Griffin Centre first as a home. They sounded like they were talking about a waste treatment plant, garbage dump, or some other municipal menace foisted upon them. Maybe to them, that’s exactly what it was.

It is a home though, to three people. Three people who may have special needs, but three people who also have the same need for companionship you and I do. Three people who deserve to be a part of a community as much as anyone else. We lock up criminals in part because they have shown they don’t want to participate in our society. We shouldn’t lock people away who want to participate and thrive when they do. The people advocating the institutionalized approach perhaps don’t realize we have tried that in this province. Scars, sorrow and shame were all we ever had to show for those efforts.

Community Living Toronto has it’s annual picnic coming up in the next few weeks. I volunteer there and will again this year. I look forward to it not because it’s a good cause or because I feel I’ve made a difference in someone’s life, though it is and I do. I look forward to it because I can’t think of any day out of the year where I am surrounded by as many happy people. People who take more joy in one afternoon than many of us will find in a year’s worth. Their happiness, compassion, and excitement is as infectious as it is inspiring.

Which is why if Doug still wants addresses to relocate a group home near, he is more than welcome to have mine.


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