It takes a village.
You’ve likely heard the saying before. But sometimes, it can also take just a single, helpful neighbour to make that all-important difference.
Ken is that person. He embodies the spirit of Community Inclusion Month, celebrated every year throughout B.C. during October, to recognize inclusion champions who are helping people with diverse abilities feel more welcome in their communities.
Ken lives near Mark, who uses a wheelchair and is a carrier who delivers the Richmond News each week to readers in his West Richmond neighbourhood.
When Mark recently ran into difficulty navigating his paper route, as a walkway connecting cul-de-sacs became rutted and too rough to allow his wheelchair through, Ken took notice and called the city to make things right.
In quick order, thanks to Ken’s involvement, the walkway was smoothed out and paved for Mark to continue his paper route.
But that’s not all.
Ken went out of his way to add a personal touch to the fire lane access-only sign attached to a chain draped across the walkway.
He had the back of the sign labelled “Mark’s Way.”
“Mark and Ken’s story is a wonderful example of the community coming together,” says Lisa Cowell, Manager, Fund Raising and Community Development at Richmond Society for Community Living (RSCL).
“Ken took it upon himself to see if this problem could get fixed, even when he had no previous relationship with Mark and only knew him as someone who delivered the local newspaper.”
The spirit of Ken’s willingness to get involved is at the heart of an inclusive community that RCSL promotes through its support programs.
“In October and throughout the year, we work to send the message that there is value in community living—for everyone. The entire community benefits when there is inclusivity,” Cowell says.
“This kind of community engagement is a great example of how a simple action can impact someone’s life and that neighbourhood so positively,” says Cherlene Mun, Integrated Services Manager at Community Living BC (CLBC), which provides funding for RSCL’s services.
Mark, himself, also helps define inclusivity as a fierce advocate for those with disabilities.
“Mark embodies the notion of being able to see beyond a disability,” Cowell says. “He is the first one to volunteer, to help break down that stereotype that someone with a disability only requires help.”
“We believe in building inclusive communities that integrate both funded and natural supports,” Mun adds. “It’s the neighbourhood they live in, the people they interact with, to day-to-day connections they make.”
For more about Community Inclusion Month 2021, click here. For more on the Richmond Society for Community Living and its programs, visit rscl.org.