CLBC created “Start with Hi” as a public awareness initiative to show British Columbians that through small, but important, actions like saying “Hi” they can play a role in their communities to increase the safety of people with developmental disabilities.
Learn more about Start with Hi by watching the video below. On this page, you also find stories and videos of people CLBC supports talking about how connecting with others helps them feel safer and more connected to their communities.
Your call to action
If you’re a shop-keeper, bus driver, neighbour, letter carrier, bank teller or community member, here’s what we’re asking you to do. Start by saying “hi” to a person that you see regularly who has a developmental disability. Who knows, a smile and a greeting might lead to a conversation and you may even find something in common. By reaching out and starting a sense of belonging with hi, you’re making your community safer for all.
All of us feel vulnerable at some time during our daily lives. For example, you might just get lost in an unfamiliar neighbourhood and need to ask directions. Or you might feel uneasy about a situation. Our instinct is to look around for someone to help. Preferably someone you know informally like a shop-keeper, neighbour or a bus driver. But some people with developmental disabilities can have a harder time making these kinds of informal connections for a variety of reasons.
Putting the “safe” in safeguards
Community Living BC believes adults with developmental disabilities and their families have the right to pursue good lives in welcoming communities. Part of a good life for people is feeling safe from harm where they live, go to school, work and play. This includes physical harm, emotional harm, or financial harm.
One important way to make sure that people are safe from harm is through “safeguards.” Safeguards are actions that are done on purpose to help reduce the risk that someone will be harmed. Informal safeguards in communities can help ensure that people with developmental disabilities are at no greater risk than the rest of us in our daily lives.
Advice from people with developmental disabilities
When we talked to people with developmental disabilities about how they could feel safer in their day-to-day lives, they had some great advice. They said, “if people would just say “HI” to us, maybe we would feel better included and like we had more people to ask for help if we needed it.”
Amy's Start with Hi story
Amy is a self-advocate who “walks the talk,” greeting and welcoming people at every turn. She loves to encourage and congratulate others because she knows how good it feels. Amy is an inspiring speaker and when she makes presentations she talks about how proud she is of her family and friends, how fulfilling her life feels and how she is open to talking and sharing with others.
According to Amy, just saying hi can seem simple enough, but it’s very powerful. Amy tells us to not be afraid to say hi and not let fear keep us silent. By reaching past that fear to say hi to someone else, we can make new connections and revitalize old ones.
Amy’s optimistic message is inspiring. She makes others feel included, valued, visible.
She chooses to see everything (and everyone) around her as an opportunity — what positive way to live life!
Amy is helping all of us understand how meaningful it is to feel included.
Cliff's Start with Hi story
Cliff is a self-advocate who cares about making everyday activities simple for anyone. He loves taking the bus wherever he goes, and over time he’s come to know the bus drivers on his regular route quite well.
When bus drivers started to greet Cliff on the bus, it became easier for him to ask for help when he was being bullied. It’s a natural instinct to ask for help from someone else, but it’s not always easy to do. We’ve all felt shy asking for help sometimes, and when it comes to asking for help from a stranger, we might feel too shy to ask at all.
Help can mean something as simple as explaining a bus schedule, or trying out something new at the gym with a friend instead of by yourself. It’s often the little things like this that make the biggest difference in our day.
Cliff is helping all of us build stronger, safer communities.
Emily's Start with Hi story
Emily is all about those small changes in your neighbourhood that make a huge difference. For her, starting with Hi means making more of an effort to reach out to those people you see every day near your home.
Can you remember the last time you said hi to a new neighbour? Making someone new feel welcome has a powerful effect on the whole community. We’re all safer and more likely to help one another when we make an effort to connect with one another.
Neighbourhoods can mean your local block, but it can also mean something much bigger. Emily volunteers at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., an organization that helps new Canadians. For Emily, the neighbourhood doesn’t just mean houses nearby, it means a community where people want to make their home.
It’s important to feel welcome and included. From Emily’s view, reaching out to your neighbours is just as beneficial to you as it is to them. Remembering that inclusion is a two-way street is an important part of Start With Hi.
Welcoming others helps the whole community.
Emily is showing us just how much can be accomplished with a simple “hi.”
Mannie's Start with Hi story
It seems like Mannie Stewart is always busy. “There’s always work to do,” says the Kamloops resident.
Mannie does many odd jobs around his community: bringing in firewood, helping with shovelling and snowploughing, working in the horses’ stalls at the racetrack, and helping clean up at the Thompson Community Services Centre after parties. He also clears the sidewalks in the winter for elderly people living nearby. “You got to help the old people and make them feel happy,” he offers.
Mannie’s volunteer activities also have provincial impact for Aboriginal self advocates. A member of the Lower Nicola Indian Band, he sits on CLBC’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee. The committee helps provide guidance on how CLBC can work more effectively with aboriginal communities.
Mannie is cared for by his sister-in-law Joanne Paquette in the family home. There, he has a place of honour as a beloved uncle for two generations of children. “His nephews grew up playing basketball with him and going fishing,” Joanne recounts. “All their friends know him and have such respect for him. They always included him in everything.”
For these future generations, Mannie sets an amazing example of contribution; he’s a role model. Through his actions, he’s teaching others that everyone can and should volunteer to help society — ability or disability is not a factor in that equation.
Manjeet's Start with Hi story
Manjeet is a self-advocate who cares about making her world a more inclusive place. She sits on the board of the Semiahmoo House Society and works hard to make others feel like they belong.
Saying hi can be a very simple and powerful tool. Manjeet has done public speaking on behalf of other self-advocates and she uses her message about starting with Hi to advocate for big changes. She has met with legislators and others who can make a real difference for people and families touched by disabilities.
Manjeet expressed the heart of Start With Hi on Global News BC, and has met with prominent Canadians to talk about the real challenges faced by people touched by disabilities. She knows that starting a real connection with a Hi makes it easier for people to work together to overcome obstacles.
Manjeet’s energy and activism are truly inspiring for all of us. Her insistence that we include one another and really hear each other when we need assistance, or just to connect, is important for anyone. Making space for others and thinking about how to make more inclusion happen can change the world, one small space at a time.
Everyone deserves to feel cared for.
Manjeet is helping to demonstrate the kind of inclusion we should all expect from one another.
Manjeet appeared on Global News to talk about Start with Hi. She explains that a simple gesture, like saying hi, can easily make others feel more confident in their neighbourhood.
Tracy Jo's Start with Hi story
Tracy Jo is a self-advocate who cares about finding things we have in common, instead of focusing on what makes each of us different. She knows that making and maintaining connections helps everyone.
One important part of Tracy Jo’s video is the connection she has to the people at the Echo newspaper. By keeping her connections strong, Tracy Jo now knows that there are people who will check in with her if they think she might need help. Instead of having to ask for help if she needs it, Tracy Jo has people in her life who will offer help and stay connected with her.
Keeping up our relationships is so important for just the reason that Tracy Jo reminds us of. It’s not always fair to expect someone in trouble to work up the courage to ask for help. It’s up to all of us to be observant and sensitive to the people around us.
Feeling valued and cared-for is something everyone needs.
Tracy Jo is helping all of us understand how important it is to feel connected.