Submitted photo Inclusion Parksville Society staff members and close to 70 individuals with diverse abilities in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area are celebrating the organizations 60 years in service this year.

Inclusion Parksville Society celebrates 60th year

Organization supports close to 70 individuals with diverse needs

This year mark’s the Inclusion Parksville Society’s 60th year supporting individuals with diverse abilities in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

Inclusion Parksville Society is a non-profit charitable organization that works with close to 70 individuals on life skills, employment assistance and socializing.

“We work with a person-centred approach, so each person has an opportunity to set goals and attend activities to work towards their goals,” said Inclusion Parksville Society executive director Barb Read. “We also try to balance in some learning and applied skills and socialization because a lot of the people that live on their own are lonely and don’t know how to make connections. I think we are sort of a hub to bring people together and make connections.”

Inclusion Parksville Society was started in 1959 by a group of parents who had children with diverse abilities. They wanted their children to go to schools in Parksville and Qualicum Beach and not go away to an institution.

In the 1970s, a sheltered workshop began, known as TEC (Technology Education Centre). Participants made and sold items such as pompoms, picnic tables, planter boxes, and stakes for BC Hydro, as well as working in a pottery studio.

In the 1980s, the association started to grow as adults moved from institutions back into their community. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Inclusion Parksville Society continued to expand and began offering more services to fit individual needs and goals such as a supported work program, self-help skills, semi-independent living, and more recently, a customized employment program, personalized supports initiative program and young adult program.

“Zoom ahead to the 21st century where [individuals] come and go and get to pick what they do and have their needs met and have input on their lives just like everybody else,” Read said. “We try to put it out there that they’re just the same as you and I, they just need some supports.”

Today, Read said she is working on a new initiative for the society that will bring the community together and further help individuals with diverse needs.

“We’re working on a big kitchen project,” she said. “In our building we have a space that used to be where the ambulance base was. We want to renovate that into a kitchen and another space into a café. My goal is for it to be a big commercial community kitchen and it’s a resource for the whole community and it will provide a lot of training opportunities for anyone with a barrier to employment not just the ones that I support.”

Read said funding for renovations have already been put aside and there has been a lot of interest from chefs and other people to provide training once the kitchen is complete.

A gala and dance is planned on Nov. 23, 2019 for the official 60-year anniversary celebration and more details will be available closer to the date.

Anyone interested in joining Inclusion Parksville’s membership can do so at www.inclusionpv.org.

karly.blats@pqbnews.com

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