On January 24, Beyond21 held their first “Hear My Voice, See My Voice” Advocacy Day at the Cornwall Square. The afternoon consisted of speeches, performances, dancing, and original art on display from participants of the Beyond21 program.
“Hear My Voice, See My Voice” began as a grassroots effort to help adults with cognitive impairment find their voice and build confidence through the arts. The mini-series of events focused on educating participants about hate crimes they may face in day-to-day life and how to use their voice to advocate for themselves.
The two-year program, which comes to an end in February, was funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General. Program Coordinator, Brett Desrosiers, hopes that they will be able to find funds to continue the project, which has already had positive impacts on participants.
“We have been learning to raise our voice and speak up and out towards what we are uncomfortable with. Like anti-bullying, uncomfortable stares, and mistreatment that permeates in our society,” said Desrosiers in her opening speech.
Other key issues facing individuals with disabilities and their families include education, healthcare, ODSP, housing, and employment – to name a few.
During the program, participants also got to provide mentorship to students from Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School’s Multiple Exceptionality Program (MEP). Approximately 12 students took part in drama classes with Beyond21 participants.
“It was a wonderful experience to see the youth grow and thrive and really develop their voices. I also admired how the youth would feel motivated to step up when they saw one of our participants join in and get a laugh or a round of applause,” Desrosiers shared.