The Ontario Community Living 64th annual conference was held in Niagara Falls from September 13th to the 15th with the theme “Spark Change—Raising Awareness and Advancing Inclusion”. Participating in this event was Lynne Potvin, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa, Frédérick Tremblay of Community Living Ontario, La Cité teachers Sylvie Rozon from the program Intervention auprès des personnes ayant un handicap (IPH) and Isabelle Therrien from the Intégration communautaire par l’éducation coopérative (ICEC). Two program students, Michaële Vaval and Ariane Lalonde, were also pleased to participate.
“The experience in Niagara was very enriching, said Michaële Vaval. As a new graduate, I was able to see how people working in the industry get together to share information and ideas.”
During the conference, the group presented a workshop that focused on using mentoring to promote the healthy work integration of individuals with an intellectual disability. The workshop was a result of a project by Research Group on social inclusion in Ontario [Groupe de recherche sur l’inclusion sociale en Ontario (GRISO)], a community-college-university research group funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). This project took place within the Social Innovation Fund for colleges and communities that includes members of Community Living, the University of Ottawa and La Cité.
Mentoring includes an integrated internship that combines La Cité’s IPH and ICEC programs. The objective is to test mentoring as a tool used for professional development and integration into the workplace and to develop the necessary skills as a mentor and a mentee.
“It is a beautiful example of inclusion! I think that the participation of these two students truly enriched the presentation and I am thrilled that the GRISO enabled us to include them and allow them to have this wonderful experience”, mentioned Isabelle Therrien, teacher of the ICEC program at La Cité. “Involving these two students was also, in my opinion, the highlight of the event”, added Sylvie Rozon, teacher of the IPH program at La Cité. “The ultimate goal of this research is to promote the inclusion of individuals with an intellectual disability in social and professional settings.”
Community Living’s Frédérick Tremblay echoed the same sentiment: “Having these two students with us made the experience more concrete for each of them. I am very happy with the outcome of the workshop and I truly hope that more opportunities such as these will present themselves.” “As a researcher in a university environment, I rarely have an opportunity to present in such an inclusive manner,’ added Lynne Potvin, doctoral student in clinical psychology. ‘Sharing knowledge from different environments—university, college, community, social integration agencies—as well as the participation of these two students was unique, enriching and beneficial. We truly experienced collaborative research in action!”