What accessibility means to me

An accessible future for people with diverse abilities can mean having a place to call home, a job you love, a feeling of safety, and being able get around the community. Michaela, Krista and Alexa from Self Advocates of Semiahmoo in Surrey, B.C., share their stories of what accessibility means to them.

Living in a place of my own

by Krista Milne

Living on my own was a big, huge dream of mine and I’m glad I accomplished it. I’ve grown since being on my own. I’ve become more independent and responsible.

I live in Chorus Apartments. My neighbourhood is close to everything I need like the theatre, bus stops, Walmart and restaurants. I enjoy visiting my neighbours, going to friends’ parties and having fun. I also really like going on my own to get a hot chocolate at the nearby Starbucks.

I like cooking in the comfort of my own apartment. I choose when to clean and take care of my chores. I have a roommate. We make sure to have good communication and help each other out.

We always have an awesome time in each other’s company and show each other respect.

I believe there should be more affordable and accessible housing so that people can live on their own, in the way they want. Whether you have a disability or not, all people need a safe place to live, transportation, a safe community, and to be independent and proud. Just like I am.

It has been great for me and I hope in the future accessible and inclusive housing can be available to others.

Working at a job I love

by Michaela Robinson

Accessibility to me means going to a job I love and being part of a team that’s inclusive of all people.

I have learned it is important to speak up if you see an organization you would like to be a part of. I did and now I have a job I really love.

I have been working at White Spot for almost a year and a half. I am a Hostess. I greet people as they come in, show them to their table and let them know who their server will be.

It is a great feeling to be out in the community and have people who I have helped at work, stop and say “Hi” to me.

White Spot has been accessible and inclusive for me because I am short in stature and they have given me my own stool so I able to be seen by customers. Customers are respectful and happy to see me. No grumpy customers so far!

My favorite thing about working at White Spot are the people I get to work with. They are friendly, respectful, encouraging and understanding if I forget information.

I’m proud to be part of such a good community of people. It would be great if many others had the same opportunity.

Getting out and about safely

by Alexa Lehwald

I love being part of my self advocacy group because we do fun events like karaoke and pizza nights. We also do good things for people by making the community more accessible, like fundraising for beach wheel chairs.

I live in my own apartment. Since having my own place it’s been fun to do things I want with my friends and not have to wait on my family. I enjoy the programs at Semiahmoo House, but I also enjoy going out in the community, meeting new people and spending time with my friends. So transportation is really important in my life.

I feel more independent when I go out with my friends on my own. I would like it if transportation routes were more accessible, not just for me but for all people. For example, more express routes, and routes that go farther so we could go to concerts and other things we like.

Accessibility is also about feeling safe. It is important for all people in the community to feel safe and to have the freedom to go wherever they need to go. I would like for all people walking on the sidewalks or crossing the street, day or at night, to feel safe.

Transportation is important for the freedom of all people and should always be affordable. I love living on my own and choosing what I want to do and where I want to go with my friends.

Creating a more accessible community

Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo (SAS) is committed to supporting all people in being engaged in their community. SAS has fundraised, hosted community events, managed federal grants and received donations to get four beach wheelchairs (including the one pictured below) for the community to use. Two beach wheelchairs are available at White Rock beach through Feral Boardsports, and SAS has also partnered with the City of Surrey to offer another beach wheelchair at Crescent Beach.

SAS also worked with UNITI board member Catherine Ferguson on a presentation to the White Rock Mayor and Council. This led to the City of White Rock unanimously voting to create three safe and inclusive access points at White Rock beach.

Learn more about SAS and their work at: Uniti4all.com/self-advocates-of-semiahmoo

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