Valued people, inclusive community: This is Community Living London’s vision and I know all too well how being valued and included can positively impact the life of a child with a disability and their family. Childhood is a magical time when children’s imaginations run wild and they begin to create a social network. For families who have a child with a developmental disability, navigating their child’s way through the early stages of development can be daunting. Every family wants their child to be safe, have fun and fit in with others.
I am lucky enough to have the best job in the world-I coordinate the Teach & Play Program at Community Living London. Teach & Play is a toy lending library that provides an opportunity for children, youth and their families to learn through play. In this program, children and families are given access to a variety of toys that stimulate a child’s interest and are, in some cases, adapted to the unique needs of a child with a disability.
Childhood is spent learning the skills and developing the behaviours and strategies that will allow children to succeed in life as they grow. For a child with a developmental disability, and their family, the early stages of growth and learning can be challenging. For many families, a trip to the library or to the mall can be traumatic. A regular outing for a parent with a young child is difficult enough; imagine having a child with a disability who expresses themselves in a way that appears disruptive to others.
I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Dario, who is a young boy who doesn’t communicate using words and is looking forward to starting school soon.
When he first started coming to Teach & Play, all the sights and sounds were overwhelming. Dario experienced a great deal of anxiety and was unable to focus on any one toy or task. After a few visits at Teach and Play, the environment came to life for Dario and he began to set up a routine, playing and exploring with different toys.
The skills the children learn while at Teach & Play can be transferred to other environments and will last a lifetime. Teach & Play prepares children to be productive and actively engaged citizens at school, at home, and in the community. This is an incredible program offered by Community Living London. I'm truly honoured to be a part of this program. Thank you Community Living London for giving children a voice!
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