We are celebrating four independent living success stories. Click the options below to hear about the successes of ILNS consumers, staff, and the programs and services we offer:
- Peer Support throughout the Years: Inclusive Activities for every Ability featuring consumer Mike Malloy
- Rising up through ILNS Pre-employment, Transitional Programming, and Beyond featuring Isai Estey
- Self-Managed Attendant Care: A Longstanding Service for Post-Secondary Students and Nova Scotians with Disabilities featuring Gordie Publicover and Noah MacNeil
- A new Independent Living Option for People with Disabilities featuring Jen Powley
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November 1 Giving Tuesday Success Story:
Peer Support Throughout the Years: Inclusive Activities for Every Ability
Independent Living Nova Scotia (ILNS) peer support allows consumers to connect and grow together through longstanding popular events and additional offerings developed during the pandemic.
Mike Malloy, a longtime ILNS consumer, has been involved with various peer support activities since the early 2000s.
“I started coming to Out and About [at ILNS], and we went into the community a lot,” Mike says. “We went bowling and to the Oaklawn Zoo in the Valley. ”
Mike gained experience navigating to and from different places and activities throughout the years.
“Taking the bus and going to different places is what independence means to me,” Mike mentioned.
This form of independence also means Mike can stop by ILNS and find out what events are coming up, including the annual Christmas Gala and Art of Disability Festival.
“My favorite part at the Gala is dancing, and I like looking at the different art at the [Festival],” Mike says. “These events are good experiences for me.”
ILNS peer support took on a new meaning throughout the pandemic so consumers could participate in experiences supporting their overall health and well-being.
“One of the issues highlighted by the pandemic was food insecurity, so we developed food support campaigns like recipe and gift card mailouts, virtual cooking series, and more,” says Meaghan Ernst, ILNS Peer Support Coordinator. “Peer support also grew to include online initiatives as well. Our annual holiday virtual turkey bingo is a fan favorite, and our online artist catalogue, a new addition to our Art of Disability Festival, has grown to include artists from across Canada.”
ILNS and its consumers were also excited to safely offer an in-person Christmas Gala in December of 2021 and the first in-person Art of Disability Festival during the summer of 2022.
“By taking steps to ensure everyone’s safety, our Christmas Gala and the Art of Disability Festival were great successes,” says ILNS Executive Director, Carrie Ernst. “We are also excited to announce that this year’s Christmas Gala will take place on Thursday, December 15, at the Atlantica’s Guild Hall!”
Overall, any ILNS peer support offering aims to bring persons with disabilities together to share experiences, learn from each other, and celebrate the resilience and success of consumers and the disability community.
“When I reflect on the collective independent living goals we strive for as a community and organization, supporting and collaborating is how we’ve continued to persevere through challenges,” says Carrie. “It is important to celebrate these achievements and unite to continue breaking through barriers.”
For more information about this year’s Christmas Gala and Dance and to register, click here.
November 8 Giving Tuesday Success Story:
Rising up through ILNS pre-employment, transitional programming, and beyond
Through our pre-employment and transition to employment programming, youth with disabilities gain skills and experience to connect with their communities through volunteerism, employment, and other learning experiences.
To say Isai Estey has a lot on the go is an understatement: from starting at Mount Saint Vincent University’s (MSVU) MountAbility program in September and successfully completing ILNS’ transition to employment program, RISE, this October, which also involved a community work placement, this ILNS consumer is going places!
“I just finished working at Bethany United Church, and I am at school studying computers and taking information technology fundamentals,” Isai says. “I would also like to [continue] volunteering at the church while completing my studies.”
Through RISE, participants learn various employability skills while also gaining work experience in positions they want to excel at, which in Isai’s case is computer technology.
“My experience with Bethany United Church was good,” Isai mentioned. “I did some data entry work and updated their website, calendar, and the church’s outdoor digital sign. I also learned to be on time, dress nice, and listen to what staff asks you to do.”
ILNS Community Access and RISE programming provide participants with resources and support to reach their personal and professional goals.
“We want to make sure our participants gain the knowledge and experience through different activities and interventions, so they are successful in reaching their independent living goals, whatever those look like to them,” ILNS Program Manager Kayla Cavanaugh says. “We complete a lot of work around employability skills development like time management, attitude, presentation, and accountability, to name a few. Participants also engage in interactive social and life skills activities.”
Program staff also take a person-centered approach, so each participant gets the most out of their time in programming and is also successful after they complete it.
“As we get to know each participant and work with them, they open up about their interests, career goals, and more,” Program Facilitator Hailey MacInnis says. “If they want to gain specific skills or experience in a certain volunteer or work environment, we make sure to find that for them. We also want to ensure that they are connected to the community and have the resources they need, so they successfully transition into volunteer, employment, or further training opportunities.”
Overall, the possibilities are endless regarding being connected in the community; however that looks for participants.
“In CAP, I learned how to build up a resume for a job, and in RISE, I learned how to do an interview the right way,” Isai says. “I also liked doing the escape room during CAP, and I really like going to work.”
For more information about our pre-employment and transition to employment programs and to apply:
- Hotelworx Sector-Based Transition to Employment Program (18-30 years old) - starts November 21; apply today: https://ilns.ca/hotelworx/
- Community Access Program (CAP) for youth between the ages 18-24 - next offering starts January 2023: https://ilns.ca/cap/
- RISE Program for youth ages 18-30: https://ilns.ca/rise-program/
November 15 Giving Tuesday Success Story:
Self-Managed Attendant Care: A longstanding service for post-secondary students and Nova Scotians with Disabilities
Self-Managed Attendant Care means Nova Scotians with disabilities can focus on recruiting, hiring, and training their own attendants (staff) to help with daily living or educational activities. At the same time, ILNS takes care of the financial piece so Self-Managers can focus on completing their studies and living independently at home, work, and play.
For Gordie Publicover, a Self-Manager through ILNS’ original Self-Managed Attendant Care pilot, being involved in this program means he can independently manage staff to provide daily living activity support however that looks to him.
“Thanks to the Self-Managed Attendant Care Program through ILNS, this service provided me with the opportunity to be employed since I was able to hire who I want and on the schedule that I needed,” mentions Gordie. “These days, I can plan the assistance which I require around a timetable that works the best for my day.”
Gordie can also spend more time with his son doing sports and activities together.
“Cooper is the most important part of my life, and he is a great kid,” says Gordie. “I want to spend as much time as possible to help him grow into a loving, caring, and respectful man.”
For Noah MacNeil, a Student Self-Manager, ILNS has made an enormous difference in the quality of his life to be successful in post-secondary studies.
“One of my educational assistants, Joanne Cecchetto, told me about NSCC and all the programs they had,” mentions Noah. “I applied and, to my surprise, was accepted. However, I knew I would need an assistant to help me as I have both physical and visual disabilities.”
Noah was connected to Kevin Penny, who works for the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, and was provided funding and support through ILNS for self-managed attendant care.
“As a result of this funding, I can hire a very competent attendant and have acquired the computer and software I need to do my schoolwork,” says Noah. “I am now a second-year student in the Criminal Justice diploma at NSCC with a 92 academic average. I am very passionate about what I am learning in this program and hope to continue my studies at St Mary's University for a Bachelor's degree in Criminology.”
Every year ILNS helps approximately 20 Student Self-Managers like Noah by completing all the financial aspects, including paying attendants, so self-managers can focus on their studies and train the attendants they hire. This is also the case with Self-Managers like Gordie as well.
“We are currently expanding payroll and remittance services to Self-Managers across the province,” says ILNS Finance Officer Tina Gascon. “There has been a very positive interest in this extended service because Self-Managers want to know their staff are being paid, their financial requirements are being taken care of both efficiently and securely, but most importantly, they no longer have to deal with that extra burden or stress.”
If you are a post-secondary student or a current Self-Manager through the DSLT and want to learn more about the financial services ILNS offers, contact email@example.com or 902-453-0004 today to find out more.
November 22 Giving Tuesday Success Story:
A New Independent Living Option for People with Disabilities
Through the Shared Services Pilot (SSP), Independent Living Nova Scotia (ILNS) and different stakeholders, including persons with disabilities, work together to offer a 24-hour community living option.
A new option for people with disabilities needing 24-hour care is opening in Halifax after years of work between Jen Powley, Independent Living Nova Scotia (ILNS), and different government departments.
“I do not think Nova Scotians with disabilities should be any different than other Nova Scotians,” says Jen. “They should live in the community with everyone else. ”
As a strong advocate for persons with disabilities and the independent living community, Jen, who has several university degrees, knows sometimes you have to find innovative ways to achieve goals.
“There is always another way of doing things if the traditional way of achieving your goals doesn’t work,” says Jen. “I do not think that having a disability is an excuse for not achieving great things. I want to be a senator. If that doesn’t happen, I want to have the government change policy to ensure that everyone has a place to live in the community.”
Jen, who has progressive Multiple Sclerosis, feared she would one day be placed in a nursing home, so she and ILNS devised a solution.
“We started research to develop a model for 24-hour care so persons with significant physical disabilities could live full, independent lives within the community with support from attendants,” says ILNS Executive Director Carrie Ernst. “ILNS has also worked diligently with the Nova Scotia government to develop policies and best practices for this pilot. Although this is a pilot project, all four individuals involved will remain in the community permanently.”
Now, after years of work, four individuals are moving into two accessible condo units.
“This project marks a significant change in how people with disabilities are seen,” says Jen. “They are not sick, only differently abled.”
Jen, who is the author of literary works like Just Jen and Sounds Like a Halifax Adventure, has also written about the process of successfully remaining in the community.
“The book is called Making a Home, Assisted Living in the Community for young adults with disabilities,” mentions Jen. “It is about the journey from the proposal I submitted in 2019 to the realization of a home in the community. Fernwood will publish it in the spring of 2023.”
Furthermore, living in community will also become a reality for 200 young individuals currently living in long-term care facilities within Nova Scotia.
“According to our government stakeholders, 300 young people currently living in long-term care settings will move into the community over the next three years,” says Carrie. “This transition back to the community will be based on the best practices and processes we developed for the initial pilot here in Halifax.”
Overall, this new independent living option and the years of work behind it is a momentous step forward for the independent living and disability community.
“If you dream, work hard, and have hope, you will achieve your goals,” says Jen.