The journey towards inclusion and citizenship

In Northern Ontario, the family and friends of people born with developmental disabilities or on the autism spectrum have long understood the struggle for inclusion and citizenship. Up until the 1950s, institutionalization was the only other option to raising a developmentally disabled child at home. Any child who scored less than 50 on an IQ test was not allowed to attend school.

Like many stories of success, it was a dedicated group of people, led by a teacher who did not agree with the testing, who brought about change. They lobbied the Premier of Ontario to provide funding to open an experimental classroom in Kirkland Lake. The educational successes experienced in this church basement classroom drew attention from across Canada. Shortly afterwards, the Ontario Association for Retarded Children was formed (Source: Community Living Kirkland Lake). It has been a long journey, however, we continue to move forward towards enabling people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live their best lives.

When the Sault Ste. Marie Association for the Mentally Retarded was established in 1954, it was extended to people who were both physically and developmentally disabled. In 1994, CLA was created to serve the District of Algoma and major service providers amalgamated to provide ease of access for families. 

Today, Community Living Algoma provides supports and services to over 900 people in the District of Algoma. Our head office is in Sault Ste. Marie and we have satellite sites in Wawa, Hornepayne, Elliot Lake and Blind River.

CLA continues to advocate and educate to ensure that people with a developmental disability are afforded all rights and choices and that they are welcomed, respected and valued in their community.

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