Community Living Toronto

Community Living Toronto provides meaningful and accessible ways for children, youth and adults who have an intellectual disability to participate in their community, as well as supporting families.

Community Living Toronto's vision is one where everyone belongs and we help each other reach for our dreams.Our Impact Why We Exist

Community Living Toronto is a leading social service agency offering a full range of personalized supports and services to people with an intellectual disability and their families.

We're there every step of the way, from as early as pre-birth counseling for parents, to being welcomed at daycare, to academics, daily living skills, finding a job and housing, and support throughout an individual’s senior years.

Mission 

Community Living Toronto changes the lives of people with an intellectual disability by giving them a voice and supporting their choices where they live, learn, work and play.

Vision

Community Living Toronto is a recognized leader offering a full range of personalized supports and services to people with an intellectual disability and their families. We set the benchmark for excellence, innovation and accountability in the developmental services sector. Our vision for society is one where everyone belongs and we help each other reach for our dreams.

Our Story What We Do

History

Community Living Toronto was founded in 1948, in response to a letter written to the Toronto Star. The letter appealed to readers to find alternatives to sending people with an intellectual disability away to live in institutions, and instead to seek schooling and a more typical way of life for them in their own homes and communities. It was the beginning of a movement for dignity, inclusion and community living.

Since its inception, Community Living Toronto has been a force for change in the Developmental Services Sector, evolving to be one of the largest organizations of its kind in North America, and a recognized leader in its field. Today, in response to the needs of people who have an intellectual disability, we employ over 1300 staff, at more than 75 locations across the City of Toronto, in support of more than 6,000 people and their families.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • Equal rights - as advocates for people with an intellectual disability, we help ensure individuals with an intellectual disability have the same rights and freedoms as those afforded to every Canadian.
  • Youth 2 Work - supporting young people in the transition from school to work for over 10 years, this innovative program has been replicated across Canada.
  • ConnectABILITY.ca - a virtual community dedicated to lifelong learning and support for people who have an intellectual disability, their families and support networks. Each month, the site receives over 20,000 visitors.
  • Spinclusion – our board game promotes acceptance and respect for people with special needs and different abilities. The game is currently being used in classrooms with children between the grades of 1 - 12.
  • LIGHTS – providing support and working directly with families to provide residential solutions specific to their requirements.
  • Bridging Diversity – breaking down the barriers to inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Our Programs How We Do It

Summary

Community Living Toronto provides more than 20 personalized services and supports. Whether it's help at home, at school or in the community, we facilitate access to the programs and services that maximize an individual’s development, including:

  • Early Childhood Services - collaborates with the family and other professionals to plan for services which address the developmental needs of the child.
  • Adult Development Program - provides training in basic work related and life skills for adults with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities who require extensive support.
  • Creative Village Studio - a studio space where artists can explore a variety of media including painting, photography, drawing and textiles.
  • United Way Community Hub (Flemingdon Park - Victoria Village) - working together with other agencies to provide localized supports and services in a dedicated ‘hub’ in a United Way identified ‘priority’ neighbourhood.
  • Foster Drop-In Centre - a place to socialize, meet new friends, play pool, watch a movie or attend an activity organized by Club members.
  • Bridging Diversity - working with Settlement Agencies across Toronto to provide culturally-meaningful outreach and information about the services available to people with an intellectual disability; as well as providing training and developing resources to help service providers in the Developmental Services sector work effectively across the wide diversity spectrum that exists in our city.

 

LIGHTS

A LIGHT in your community

Description

LIGHTS is a pioneering initiative created by community leaders in partnership with Community Living Toronto to address the shortage of independent and appropriate housing for people with an intellectual disability in Toronto. This unique program, for adults 18 and over, works directly with families to provide residential solutions specific to their requirements. Its goal is to enable new housing opportunities to flourish for the intellectually disabled, and to share this blueprint for success with other communities across the country.

Mission of LIGHTS: Through partnerships with families, philanthropists, government and established agencies, LIGHTS will make supportive housing a reality for individuals with an intellectual disability.  As a result, these citizens and their families will have a greater quality of life.

Vision of LIGHTS: Enabling citizens with an intellectual disability to live in a home of their own, thereby enriching our communities.  

Program Impact

Over 2,500 people with an intellectual disability in Toronto are on waiting lists for residential support and are waiting on average over 20 years to obtain the support they require. LIGHTS offers a beacon of hope for those that are ready to embark on independent living while creating significant capacity to close the gap:

  • Today, over 230 families have received advisory services.
  • 32 Families have chosen LIGHTS funding.
  • 55 people have moved into independent living after LIGHTS facilitation.
  • Families are inquiring about LIGHTS, and for the very first time, beginning to envisage the possibility of independent living for their family member.
  • LIGHTS is receiving inquiries from agencies across Toronto and beyond, wanting to know about our services for the families they support.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"The monthly waiting list for social housing has reached new record high numbers, every month since the recession loomed in 2008."

Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance in their community. Living in one’s own home, choosing where and with whom you live and forming social relationships are fundamental to this sense of belonging.

Participant Vignette

Mary Pat Armstrong: Jenny’s story

Our daughter, Jenny, is like a butterfly – always happy and always making others happy. She was born thirty-five years ago, and as she grew into her twenties, my husband and I began to hope that one day she could live independently of us, as we knew our other daughters would.

We wanted her to have her own home so that she could begin to feel what it was like to live without our daily presence and supervision; we wanted her to get that wonderful feeling of independence and control over her own life.

Gradually, over the course of almost three years we traveled together on a journey of house hunting, housemate hunting, caregiver searching, and furniture buying until we were all ready to make the move.

In September, 2003 Jenny moved into her own home with two friends. While driving her up to her house one day, Jenny asked, “Mum, is this forever?” I paused, and answered, “Yes. Is that OK?” To my great relief, I heard “Yes” in return.

As you can imagine my husband and I are thrilled for our daughter. We have witnessed her new-found freedom, watching her take the opportunity to be who she is. What more could a parent ask for?

Jenny’s self-confidence has grown from doing typical everyday chores such as cooking and shopping, and she is thriving, participating in her own community, making new friends, and exploring her neighborhood (shops, parks, restaurants). Jenny’s life has changed. She is really learning to be who she is.

Youth 2 Work

Helping youth transition from school to work

Description

This project engages youth with an intellectual disability while they are still in high school to help them prepare for life after graduation while giving teachers and families the tools and resources to help support their youth in the transition.

Youth 2 Work also reaches out into the community to those aged 18-28 who have already left school, are unemployed or not involved in employment related activities.

Like all of our supports and services, Youth 2 Work is geared towards each person’s unique interests and goals.

Why Youth 2 Work?

For individuals who have an intellectual disability the transition from education to employment is especially challenging. Numerous barriers to entry exist for a person who has an intellectual disability in acquiring a good, suitable job:

Statistics Canada’s 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey indicated that 73% of people with an intellectual disability are not working; with 76.7% of participants with an intellectual disability reporting that they were not working because of one or more barriers: lack of accessible transportation, inadequate training, discrimination, jobs not adapted or modified to meet individual needs and concern about being isolated by other workers.

Youth 2 Work eliminates these barriers through guidance and mentorship, providing vital employment related skills (work experience, resume writing and interview skills) and by developing the necessary community networks to help raise an individual’s self-esteem and confidence, so they are ready for the world of work.

Program Impact

Since 1999 Youth 2 Work has assisted over 170 youth in finding meaningful employment opportunities and/or community placements, with approximately 100 individuals utilizing it every year. In fact Youth 2 Work has been so successful that the model has been replicated throughout the Developmental Services Sector across Canada.

Through Youth 2 Work’s person-directed career development process participants can chose their own direction in life, emerging equipped with a sustainable plan for the future and the chance to lead a more fulfilling life in their community.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“Work defines your membership in society.” Ann Lockhart, Program Manager, ACCESS Community Capital Fund.

"In the first half of 2012, the employment rate fell even lower to 60.9%, as large numbers of job-seeking youth found no work." Toronto's Vital Signs Report 2012

Each year, approximately 100 young people with an intellectual disability graduate from school programs in Toronto without a plan to facilitate their transition into employment. As many training programs are filled and with long waiting lists, these youth risk losing the valuable skills acquired at school and spend their days idle. This in turn can lead to isolation, depression and reduced feelings of self worth.

Participant Vignette

For Kheng, Youth 2 Work was the perfect fit!

“I am very proud of myself. I feel good that I can achieve my goals.”

When Kheng finished high school there weren't any plans in place to help him figure out what came next. Afraid to go by himself because he didn't know how to take the transit, Kheng spent a lot of time watching movies at home. “I was a couch potato” he admits. “That was okay for a little while but then I got bored.”

However thanks to an increase in funding, additional spaces opened up in Community Living Toronto’s Youth 2 Work program. This opportunity was perfect for Kheng and literally changed his life!

With the support of Youth 2 Work, somebody was finally there to ask the question: What are your goals?

From that day on, Kheng set goal after goal for himself and with the help of his support worker reached each and every one: He learned to ride the TTC by himself, enrolled in a literacy program and developed friendships in the community. He even started working (three days a week!) – finding a placement in not just one job, but two, proudly working at Boston Pizza and Community Living Toronto’s own Coffee Den. “I feel proud that I can do stuff and I’m more satisfied with my life” he says.

Imagine what achieving these goals did for Kheng’s self-esteem. With each goal met, Kheng’s independence soared, his confidence grew and soon there was no sign of the timid young “couch potato” who was so afraid to leave the house.

“I feel proud of myself that I can take the transit in Toronto. I feel proud that I can work at a job by myself. It feels goods to meet new people in the community, at work and at school.”

Kheng needed one thing to unlock all the dreams in his heart. He needed a partner to help him identify and achieve his goals – someone to take him by the hand and ask about his goals and dreams.

Community Living Toronto and Youth 2 Work is that partner - supporting individuals to succeed on whatever path they choose.

As you read this story, Kheng might be working at Boston Pizza, at his literacy class or enjoying a social activity with his new friends. Wherever he is, one thing is sure: Kheng is having the time of his life.

Creative Village Studio

Enriching lives through creative expression

Description

Creative Village Studio is an all-inclusive, interactive, community based art studio and gallery designed to support artists with intellectual disabilities while engaging the surrounding community.

The Studio offers a variety of classes including art, scrapbooking/journaling, card making and knitting, as well as photography lessons, choir, and a drop-in studio time for all ages.

The Studio's vision is to provide a supportive space for artists of all abilities, enriching lives through creative expression by helping them learn how to express themselves artistically.

Program Impact

Creative Village Studio speaks volumes about the therapeutic nature of art for those who created it - artists who sometimes struggle to articulate their innermost feelings otherwise.

Creative Village Studio has made inroads in to the artistic community through gallery showings, festivals, outdoor markets, competitions and educational outreach.

This impact on our artists has been pivotal to personal growth, self esteem and skill building, giving individuals the confidence to reach for their dreams through creative expression.

Participants in our art programs have repeatedly demonstrated their capacity for creating stunning works of art. 

If you were to ask the participants at our Studio what they do for a living, they would proudly exclaim that they are ‘artists’. 

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"A thriving cultural sector is not only good for the local economy but fosters greater citizen engagement and sense of belonging, higher levels of giving and volunteering, and improved health."

Creative Village Studio really does make a remarkable difference to the people it supports. By learning to express themselves through art, clients benefit from a great sense of fulfillment and pride – sometimes while earning a wage too!

Participant Vignette

Donna began painting 9 years ago. She moved to Creative Village Studio four years ago, where she had the opportunity to be introduced to a wider audience.

Donna was one of the featured artists at Lakeshore Arts and the Ottawa School of Art. She has participated in many outdoor art showings and conferences. She goes to many galleries and libraries around the city studying different artists. Her favourite artist and influence is Picasso.

Donna says: "I have developed my own style of painting. I love all people and bright colours. I am going to be a famous Artist!"

Donna has sold scores of artwork and has a following of admirers. She has had a waiting list for paintings over the past couple of years. Her artwork has been purchased even before it has dried!

Donna is a hardworking, dedicated and passionate painter – she is a true Artist.

Program Partners

LIGHTS: The Armstrong Family, TD Bank, CIBC, Harold E. Ballard Foundation, Harry E. Foster Foundation, Li Ka Shing Canada Foundation, The Cochrane Family Foundation, John Clark.

Youth 2 Work: Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS), United Way Toronto, State Street Corporation.

Creative Village Studio: Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS provides for one full time Facilitator), families of studio users; we work collaboratively, most recently with Arts Etobicoke, Amnesty International, City of Toronto and Bloor West Music.  The sale of artwork and greeting cards, and income from Fee for Service drop-ins helps generate revenue to reinvest in supplies.

What You Can Do

 

LIGHTS

Activities a donation will support

The families of those with intellectual disability live, on a daily basis, with tremendous incremental human and financial cost. Safe and appropriate housing is difficult for this population to obtain, and very few resources are available to help them solve their situation. The drain on the emotional and physical health of family members and on their financial resources is often overwhelming.

Contributions to LIGHTS will enable us to:

  • With funding LIGHTS will be able to provide bridge funding to more individuals to help them cover the everyday costs associated with having a home of their own including the support required to facilitate a meaningful life in their community.
  • Help families find creative ways to achieve affordable and accessible living options.
  • Provide interim funding to families who cannot afford the start-up process of independent living via the LIGHTS Fund.
  • Distribute communication materials to families.
  • Build online resources to help connect families through ConnectABILITY.ca.
  • Develop Best Practices and Processes in the provision of housing for people with intellectual disabilities - a blueprint for other organizations and communities throughout the country.
  • Ensure that LIGHTS reaches “permanent program” status.

Donation impact

By contributing to LIGHTS you can be assured that your support will help change the lives of people with intellectual disability by giving the freedom, independence and dignity that only a home of one’s own provides. You can help people who have an intellectual disability achieve their dreams and goals of independence and contribution to the community.

Imagine how a person with an intellectual disability would feel to be asked, “Where would you like to live?”

Youth 2 Work

Activities a donation will support

With increased funding Youth 2 Work will:

  • Provide additional placements to high school youth aged 16-18.
  • Establish partnerships with the high schools of program participants.
  • Create a career plan and provide at least one community placement, including a plan to sustain the placement after graduation for each participant.
  • Provide teachers, guidance counselors and parents with the tools and resources to help transition youth with an intellectual disability from high school to community life.
  • Increase public awareness of community and work opportunities for youth who have an intellectual disability.

Our experience has proved that the earlier we engage young people with an intellectual disability and their families in planning for the future the smoother the transition from school to work or other community activities will be. By beginning planning during their academic career, young people have the opportunity to explore their interests and gain skills that will enhance their opportunities once they leave school.

Try to imagine what it feels like to so badly want to participate fully in your community and not be able to.

Donation impact

Employment carries with it all the extras that having and doing a good job grants all of us. Self-esteem, a new kind of socialization and friendships, a little spending money after the bills have been paid - a feeling of truly being a citizen and a part of the community around us.

Creative Village Studio

Activities a donation will support

Creative Village Studio has a wonderful capacity to support artists who have an intellectual disability. In doing so it inspires change in the culture and attitude towards people with intellectual disabilities.

The Studio is striving to increase the diversity of its programming and expand its capacity. Additional contributions would allow the expansion of the current arts program to include more creative disciplines and reach more clients.

Funds to provide equipment and supplies, and cover teaching costs can make this happen: 

  • Musical instruments – for more variety / expansion of music classes.
  • Teaching – fees for service for teachers i.e. choir.
  • Photography – digital cameras for individuals that can’t afford them but want to take photography class (loaners).
  • Art supplies – canvas, paints and brushes.

Donation impact

The power of art as a way for people who have an intellectual disability to discover and express themselves, to connect with peers and make new friends, and to participate in the wider community is clear. 

With your support Creative Village Studio can expand and diversify its programming in order to meet an ever growing demand: by providing equipment and supplies; continuing our successful presence in the community (by building arts and corporate partnerships); and by continuing to exhibit locally, nationally and possibly one day, on an international scale. 

Contact

Angela Bradley
Director of Public Relations & Fundraising
647.729.1178
Charitable Number: 107694143RR0001

Finance & Governance

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