An Open Letter to Work Together
Last Sunday night a friend of mine posted the Windsor Star article of The John McGivney Children's Centre’s preschool programme being closed due to budget cuts. As a former child of that programme it upset me quite a bit. I was sharing stories with my wife of how that programme played a significant reason why I have the life I have today (I share aspects of my life on my blog - www.daviddame.com).
Monday morning, I wanted to send this letter out but I had a busy week full of off site meetings. Despite having a busy day I recorded a video in my office asking people to help to raise awareness to this issue. To my surprise my video has had 1100 views in 4 days. There are a lot of people working hard to have a collective voice to share this programme.
The JMCC programme benefits the child, but is an incredible resource to parents in their darkest hour. Parents without children with special needs find it overwhelming...can you imagine what parents with special needs has to go through? They have to work to support the family, raise a child, provide special care, look for resources to help provide information to what is available, how to access them, take time from work to meet with these programmes...and repeat. I seen first hand what my parents went through.
The JMCC gave them the support, the light, to begin to have an ecosystem that can help their children...and help them prepare for life after pre-school. To help that child have a life of whatever that life entails.
When I went to the pre-school programme I was just a kid. Since we all had a disability we were ‘normal’ kids. We got to focus on learning to share, play, and get along with each other. In an environment that could give us the extra learning we needed like going to the washroom independently, use our walker/wheelchair, how to use special devices..helped us to prepare for our life after the JMCC programme. We got to develop like any other pre-school child, and didn’t yet need to advocate for equal opportunities. We could be just your regular pain in the butt child.
I went to JMCC from pre-school to grade 4 before being integrated into the regular school system. I went on to University and today have a successful career. I’m a Director of a software company in Toronto. Although I no longer live in Essex County, my wife and I are there throughout the year to visit friends and family. We plan to retire back home someday.
The JMCC beginning helped me get to here. I’m a husband, I’m a colleague, I’m a professional, I’m a taxpayer, I’m an idiot, I’m inappropriate at times, I love, I anger, I make mistakes, I learn, I fall, I get back up, I cry, I laugh... I live. I continue to use the tools JMCC taught me then to cope with life challenges now. I want others to have the same opportunities. I'm not sharing this to gloat, I'm sharing this because not many people would have thought this life for me was possible without the support I received.
We are not asking for a handout, rather an investment. An investment into the economy, community, and the future.
People is blaming political parties. This is not time to look for blame. Rather, this is a time to come together and raise awareness. Like in business, I’m sure politicians need to make budget decisions in a timely manner with the best information they have at the time. We need to continue to be make visible the value of this programme.
There are a lot of people who worked hard this week to raise awareness. Together, we are willing to help out in any way. I’m asking the Windsor media, government at all levels, how can we all work together to save this much needed support system.