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Independent Living breaking barriers

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Dec 03, 2013 - 12:41 PM |
Rob DiMeglio, executive director of Independent Living Sudbury Manitoulin, is confident the centre will expand to offer new services by the end of 2014. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.

Rob DiMeglio, executive director of Independent Living Sudbury Manitoulin, is confident the centre will expand to offer new services by the end of 2014. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.

The centre wants to tear down a wall to expand its services

Breaking down the barriers people with disabilities face every day, was the main theme at the fifth annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities Breakfast at the Caruso Club Tuesday morning.

But Independent Living Sudbury Manitoulin, which organized the event, also hopes to break down a physical barrier so it can expand its new space on Durham Street in downtown Sudbury.

Rob DiMeglio, Indpendent Living Sudbury Manitoulin's executive director, said Tuesday's event raised funds to tear down one of the centre's wall and create an arts and crafts area, and a solarium, in the space next door.

“Part of our barrier today is the wall, separating the centre and the new spot we want to renovate,” DiMeglio said.

Last year the annual breakfast raised about $40,000. DiMeglio expects the proceeds to be similar for the 2013 edition.

Independent Living's board of directors expects to develop a strategic plan for the expanded space early in the new year. The centre will apply for funding in March, and DiMeglio said the expansion could be completed by the end of 2014.

Independent Living offers a number of different services, such as an adaptive sports program, to help people with disabilities to succeed and achieve their own independence.

“The centre makes me feel like a productive member of this community,” said Independent Living member Cherie Mercier, in a speech she gave Tuesday morning.

Chris Charbonneau, who has been a member with the centre for six years, said the friends he has made there have become like family.

Ken Roche, a former member of Ontario's para-alpine racing team, part-time stand-up comedian, and full-time massage therapist, gave the keynote address at Tuesday's event.

Roche, who has been legally blind since childhood, said life is a “full-contact sport” for people with disabilities, and centres like Independent Living Sudbury Manitoulin are needed to help people learn the skills they need to navigate the world.

“I've seen what support and dedication can do,” Roche said.
 
Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer

@jmigneault

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