Where in Burnaby do people with disabilities feel most welcomed?
Thanks to a recent initiative spearheaded by the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, the answers are available on a handy map.
On Oct. 16, facilitators from BACI and the Spectrum Society for Community Living teamed up with 35 people with disabilities. The group identified the “sweet spots” in Burnaby, where they feel most welcome and able to make meaningful connections in the community. These spots were mapped on a large piece of paper on the wall.
The key answers included Burnaby libraries and recreation centres, sports facilities, and churches. A few restaurants and retail stores were included, but participants in the mapping project wished there were more places they could add to the map.
City representatives, local MLAs Jane Shin and Richard Lee and other community members were invited to share ideas on how to make Burnaby more welcoming for people with disabilities.
“This conversation on belonging is one of many that BACI has been hosting over the past year as we continue to explore ways to support people with disabilities and their families to have a good life in our community,” said executive director Tanya Sather in a press release. “Ultimately, the conversation is about how we all benefit, leading more rich and full lives, when there are spaces and places of warmth and respect for all citizens to enjoy.”
BACI’s staff member Liz Etmanski facilitated the project and helped with graphic design. As a person with a disability, she characterized welcoming as a feeling that you belong to something.
“It’s always nice to feel welcomed. If you’re going in another country, or another part of the world, and you meet someone who’s the same as you, of course you feel very welcomed. They understand you, they understand what’s its like. It’s a wonderful,” she said.
Etmanski also said it was good to have a conversation as part of the mapping project.
“You can have a voice. It’s always good to have a voice out there. It’s often really nice to hear other people talk about that stuff,” she said.
The maps, which are meant to be conversation starters, are on display at BACI’s Still Creek Centre.
BACI is planning more events on the subject of belonging in the coming months. To get involved, email email@example.com or call 604-299-7851.