Recently our Architect participants had a very positive experience with the Town of Orangeville, and we would like to share this story here. This is a learning experience about advocating for ourselves and others.
The Architect crew had been experiencing barriers to booking systems for programs at the Town of Orangeville, and bus transportation issues.
“Ugh, this sucks when we try to do these things and can never do it.” This was the general feeling of the Architect group when we would try to utilize town services and facilities.
Our leadership team saw this as an opportunity to encourage advocacy. The crew was presented with the idea of taking their concerns to the town. This led to online research and discussion about who it was we needed to talk to. Once we narrowed down a few departments we could potentially send our concerns to we drafted letters. We mailed a letter to the town recreation department and sent an email to Mayor Lisa Post. Quite quickly after we received and email reply from Mayor Post and a meeting was set up. The group was excited yet nervous to meet with someone so important, but they put their best foot forward and went to the meeting with questions and concerns ready to be presented.
“I feel heard and like they took us serious. They were taking notes!”
-Nicole happily said after we had left the meeting.
Each person was given their chance to voice their concerns and frustrations while the Mayor and Town Representatives gave full attention. Both groups took into consideration what the other had to say and agreed to work together to eliminate barriers where possible. “I didn’t know we could even do that.” Shaan-E-Abbas said after the meeting. He was referring to being able to talk to people of power within a community. The crew felt empowered after the meeting. They expressed genuine gratitude to everyone who took the time to listen and strategize with them. The crew talked about how they now understand why there may be temporary barriers but there is a plan to resolve them. They talked about understanding that things take time within a Town because so many different people are involved to make a change. But most of all they are relieved that a new Inclusive Court will be open for us to utilize for some fun indoor physical activity. They are very much looking forward to this in May.
“If we have another problem, we can do this again.” Said Micheal and he is very right. We have learned that if we are facing barriers for our group or even personally, we always have the option to advocate for changes!
The Architect Program from Branching Out Support Services would like to send a thank-you to Mayor Lisa Post and the Town of Orangeville Representatives for hearing us, helping us and following through!