CALGARY, March 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Today is a momentous day of celebration
for all Albertans as we join almost every province in Canada in ending
the large-scale institutionalization of Albertans with developmental
disabilities with the closure of Michener Centre's institutional
facilities and the return to a life in community of the adults with
developmental disabilities who lived there. Institutionalization began
with the misguided and false assumption that institutions would provide
for the safety and well-being of individuals with developmental
disabilities. Many decades of evidence across the western world have
proven time and time again that institutions are far more likely to
place vulnerable individuals at risk and limit their potential.
Alberta's infamy of forced sterilization, and worse, within the walls of
its institutions came to an end in the early 1970's with the moral
leadership of Premier Lougheed and then MLA Dave King. Today that
legacy is being honoured and completed thanks to the leadership of
Premier Redford and Ministers Hancock and Oberle.
Barb MacIntyre, President of the Alberta Association for Community
Living (AACL) and the parent of an adult son with developmental
disabilities, stated, " While today marks the beginning of new and
promising lives for those leaving the institution, I know they and
their families will be anxious. We want to reassure them, we are
prepared to support them in realizing the promise of a life in
community to which they are entitled."
In 2006 AACL published Hear My Voice, stories in their own words of individuals with developmental
disabilities who once lived in Michener Centre but now live in
community. This book is a powerful testimony to the resiliency of the
human spirit, its capacity for forgiveness and hope fulfilled.
Bruce Uditsky, AACL CEO and the parent of an adult son with
developmental disabilities, noted, "We know from experience and
research*, it is not enough to close an institution. The focus must be
on the individual person first and foremost, ensuring access to a
meaningful life and a real home in community. We know as well
communities will benefit from welcoming individuals with developmental
disabilities as valued friends and participating members."
*Lakin, Larsen & Kim. (2011). Behavioral Outcomes of
Deinstitutionalization for People with Intellectual and/or
Developmental Disabilities: Third Decennial Review of U.S. Studies,
1977-2010. Policy Research Brief, 21(2). University of Minnesota
Kozma, Mansell, and Beadle-Brown (2009). Outcomes in Different
Residential Settings for People With Intellectual Disability: A
Systematic Review. American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental
Disabilities, 114 (3).
SOURCE: Alberta Association for Community Living
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