For many of us, citizenship is something we take for granted. It can be defined in many ways, but at its core citizenship is our sense of value and belonging. This sense of citizenship doesn’t always extend to people with disabilities. That’s why Skills Society was formed – to provide people with disabilities with the same opportunities and choices, the same ability to share their gifts and talents, and the same sense of belonging that we all enjoy. Citizenship is what we strive for every day – and it encompasses the following:
Story of Rights
An important part of citizenship is having equal access to opportunities, the freedom to choose, and independence. Earlier this year, some of the citizens we serve advocated for their right to full citizenship through participation in a focus group with the City of Edmonton. In this focus group, they had an opportunity to share their experiences and voice their concerns related to accessibility within the City.
Story of Relationships
Relationships are an important part of citizenship – being able to share your life with others in big and small ways. Irene and Arlin have a strong and loving relationship with one another. They celebrated their love and commitment in a beautiful wedding ceremony at their community church on July 29th, 2017. In chatting with Irene and Arlin, it became clear they share a real and meaningful friendship with one another based on trust, support, and looking out for each other:
“We love each other a lot… I love her because she does stuff for me, I do stuff for her, and we both take care of each other”
“He’s a good friend”
This year, they will be celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary and look forward to spending time together.
Story of Belonging
An important part of citizenship is belonging. To belong is to feel valued, respected, and an important part of something bigger than yourself. Brittany is an engaged citizen who feels a sense of belonging as an actor and board member of the Rising Sun Theatre Group. Brittany has been performing since she was a little girl and loves all aspects of the theatre life – the acting, singing, and being creative. As Brittany puts it, she is a performer at heart, “theatre is in her blood.” Brittany is grateful to be a valued member of the theatre group and derives great meaning from both her roles.
“I like to participate in different types of things and it makes me very happy that I’m part of the board. Not only am I an actor but I’m also a part of the leadership of the group. I’m very thankful for this.”
Story of Participation
An important part of citizenship is having meaningful things to do and the opportunity to share your gifts and talents with others. This past year Jennie worked as a Community Builder with the CommuniTEA Infusion Project. Jennie is warm and friendly – attributes that make her perfectly suited for this role! In her role she welcomed and chatted with community members as they approached the van. Jennie was a valued member of the team and shared her insights and ideas throughout the season – making the project even better! When asked what she liked most about working the tea van Jennie replied:
“My favorite part was going out and seeing so many different places and meeting lots of neat people.”