October is Community Living Month, the perfect time to honour the contributions of children and youth with developmental disabilities and recognize the many people who are making a difference in their lives, helping them build brighter futures.
As B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, I am pleased that my mandate was recently expanded to include advocacy services for young adults from their 19th to 24th birthdays who are eligible to receive services from Community Living BC, and who have also received a reviewable service from the Ministry of Children and Family Development within the 15-month period before their 19th birthday.
For several years, my Office has recognized the need to better serve young adults transitioning out of the children and youth system and has been advocating for this change to the mandate. These young individuals and their families can now talk with someone who will provide them with information and advice, advocate on their behalf regarding access to a government service or program, connect them to valuable services and assist them in their new role of self-determination and decision making.
I hope that Community Living Month 2013 will serve as a reminder of our responsibility to ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in society. I invite organizations and governments to celebrate the young adults with developmental disabilities in their midst by building inclusion through acceptance of diversity.
Let’s ensure that, as leaders of today, we commit to hearing the voices of all young people in our work, in our families and in our communities.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond
Representative for Children and Youth, British Columbia