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Excerpt from Markham Board of Trade magazine, The Voice, Spring 2012 issue:
2011 Business Excellence Award Recipient
Accessibility is a lot more than wide doorways, ramps and swimming pools designed for wheelchair access. It’s about helping physically and developmentally disadvantaged members of the community to live as normally as possible, says Frances DiCarlo, executive director of Participation House.
Winner of the Board of Trade’s 2011 Business Excellence Award for Accessibility, Participation House provides a home-like environment for 110 disabled adults in eight residential settings, including a 44-unit residence adjacent to the Markham-Stouffville Hospital, two group homes and four apartment-style supportive housing locations.
Disabilities don’t stop Participation House residents from going to the library or the mall, said DiCarlo. “We help our residents participate in the everyday activities of life that most people take for granted.”
The organization was founded 40 years ago by a group of parents who were unhappy with the institutional living arrangements provided for children with cerebral palsy. The parents lobbied the provincial government for a more home-like environment for their children, secured land from the hospital foundation and welcomed the organization’s first residents in November 1972.
Participation House provides meals, housekeeping and laundry services, life skills training, social and recreational programs, pool therapy, adult education and wheelchair accessible transportation for group and individual outings.
“Apartment-style supportive housing serves disabled adults who are able to live more independently,” said DiCarlo. “They may need some help with showering or meals. Then they’re either off to work, school or day programs.”
Participation House has 180 employees and serves adults 18 years of age and older with a variety of physical and developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and spina bifida.
“We’re going to be celebrating our 40th anniversary this year, so the timing for the Board of Trade’s Accessibility Award couldn’t have been better,” said DiCarlo. “We’re very proud of the work we do and the difference we make in the lives of our clients.”