Breaking Down Barriers (BDB) is an Independent Living Resource Centre providing community-based supports, services, resources and programs for adults living with diverse disabilities. For many, it may feel as if BDB has always been here. However, few know in the early years, our doors opened, closed and reopened a number of times, dependent on funding. Now in our 36th year, we are one of only 24 accredited Independent Living Resource Centres in the Country.
The pandemic presented us with many challenges. Our response to the immediate and continuing scale of COVID has been successful. Phones are busy with staff and volunteers checking-in with Members, reaffirming changing protocols and providing crisis intervention when needed. We also quickly transitioned in-person programs to virtual one while continuing to provide safe in-person urgent support. With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter activities, Zoom meeting programs and expanded interactive social online support services, BDB continues to engage and support its Members.
Our tactics are working. By initiating a high level of online activities, we have changed “distancing” into “reaching” through doors and across geographical barriers. New Members have joined us, accessing our supports and services online. As we continue on the path of helping and reaching more people, we introduced our popular Diabetes Information Group online, making it available to anyone who is living with or knows someone living with diabetes. In addition to regular programs being virtual for now, our outreach for the Direct Funding, Self-Managed Attendant Services of Ontario program has grown. This innovative government program enables adults with physical disabilities to become employers of their own attendants to assist with routine activities of living such as dressing, grooming and bathing. We work with individuals virtually through the qualifying process, interview preparation and when successful, support them as they manage their care and elevate their independence.
Earlier this year, BDB recognized the importance of reaching people of all abilities. Let’s face it – many of us will develop some form of disability as we age. Thanks to the New Horizons for Seniors Grant, we developed Connecting with Seniors, a monthly Zoom program for people 60 plus. It’s an opportunity to connect socially, which for many, addresses feelings of loneliness and isolation. We come together to share, learn something new, try new recipes, speak directly with health care professionals, and be entertained. In four short months, we have exceeded our participant goal and are making meaningful connections throughout Simcoe, Grey and Bruce Counties and beyond.
So, as we look ahead to a time when in-person peer support and independent living programs can resume at our Centre, it is safe to say we will also continue our virtual path forward, breaking down barriers and ensuring BDB will always be a place individuals of all abilities can turn to.
For more information about our programs, services and virtual activities or to make a donation, please visit breakingdownbarriers.ca or call us at 705-445-1543, ext *301