Living the Dream is a project that embodies Community Living Mississauga’s mission and vision. It focuses on supporting people who have an intellectual disability as they transition out of their current home and move into their own, independent living arrangement. Through the planning process, facilitators at Community Living Mississauga partner with project participants and their families as they further explore their visions for their future and provide support to make their vision a reality.
Living the Dream provides support to reduce barriers and ensure that all people are given the opportunity to create and live a self-managed life. Facilitators empower participants to build their capacity and gain new skills, resulting in full inclusion.
Participants are encouraged to look within their own resources, natural supports and assistive technology to build their future. By focusing on a person’s positive attributes, interests, gifts and contributions, participants are empowered to build on their vision through valued social roles, and taking on new responsibilities. This encourages each person’s unique characteristics, interests, gifts and contributions to come to light. The end result is that participants are no longer forced to rely on funded, paid supports in the long term.
This project is life changing for participants, their families, Community Living Mississauga and the whole community of Mississauga.
Sasi was Living the Dream’s first participant. Prior to beginning this partnership, Sasi was living at home with her parents. She had a plan to move into her own home and live independently.
“A major goal of mine was to arrange a place for Sasi to live. We bought a house about 15 years ago and rented it out as a part of this plan,” explained Sasi’s mother Nayana.
In September 2020, when the time came for Sasi to move into her own home, her partnership with Living the Dream began.
“Getting a phone call from Sabina stating that (Living the Dream) was willing to support me and my daughter as a part of a pilot project was one of the happiest moments of my life. Community Living Mississauga accepting and agreeing to help my daughter is a dream come true” said Nayana.
Together with her parents, Sasi began to prepare her new home for her move. This involved painting, renovations and making it her own. In addition to this, Sasi officially began her professional relationship with Sabina, her support through the Living the Dream project. Sasi and Sabina met every week via Zoom, getting to know each other, setting goals and actions, exploring options and learning together.
Over the year of Sasi’s partnership with Living the Dream, she has greatly increased her skills and took pride of ownership in her home. More importantly to Sasi and her parents, she has gained self confidence that she never felt before.
Sasi loves living in her own home, being responsible for her own schedule. She is happy to be making her own food, doing her laundry, and keeping her home clean. Sasi has learned to plan her meals each week, then order and pay for her groceries online. She has also chosen to use some technology where helpful for her; Sasi plans her daily schedule using Apps on her phone, for example.
In addition to her Sabina, Sasi also receives support from her family and a support worker she hired. Together with her family, Sasi found a supportive roommate, Elisa, who lives with her, and with whom she enjoys spending time. “Sasi and Elisa are in the process of getting to know each other. They prepare meals together, go for walks, and spend some time together”, said Nayana.
During the last year, Sasi has worked hard to build her skills and independence, and to become familiar with her area and her neighbours.
“We are so happy that Sasi is fully participating, and feels included, in her neighbourhood”, shared Nayana.
Sasi is now able to get ready in the morning, and go where she needs to, with minimal support; she is following the alarms set up in her phone as a guideline. Sasi independently takes TransHelp or a taxi to some of the activities that she attends. Sasi is able to walk independently to one of her activities, which is about a 30-minute walk from her home. During the summer, Sasi walked to the outdoor pool close by, and went swimming.
“The endless support, guidance and encouragement from Living the Dream started with my daughter moving to her own home. Without the support from Sabina and Tracy at Community Living Mississauga, we would not have been able to achieve the goals that my daughter has achieved today,” said Nayana. “She has completed many goals and grown to a young woman we all are very proud of.”