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Heidi’s Story

heidi MallettLiving Independently

I find it a privilege and a right to speak up for myself and be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.

I was born and raised in Alberton P.E.I. I have a visual and hearing impairment; my parents were told I wouldn’t be able walk or talk well. I sure proved the doctor wrong!

In 1992 and 1994-95 school year I attended the school for the Blind – now is called APSEA in Halifax. While I was there I have the privilege meeting people who were going through the same situations as I was. Some of the skills I learn were daily living skill, employment and socializing with other.

In 1997 I move to Charlottetown P.E.I. where I lived in a room and board environment for seven years. I learned to live independently and developed some daily living skills. At that time I believed there would be more opportunities in town than in Albertion. The family where I got room and board with didn’t think I could live on my own… well I prove them wrong.

While living In Charlottetown I had the opportunity to work in the activity department at the Prince Edward Home and the Garden Home. This allowed me to gain some independence.

In 2003 a family member had seen some press releases done by Community Inclusions and contacted me which at that time I started to think about the possibility of moving home to Albertion I then contacted the employment counsellor from Community Inclusions to see if there was any possibility of me moving back to Albertion. I was firm in telling her that if I moved back I wanted my own apartment. I wanted to find meaningful employment. I also wanted to know from her if there were any supports available for me to live on my own.

I was referred to Ethel Ellsworth Residential Coordinator with community Inclusions. She helped me put in place an action plan and the right supports that I would need to live on my own. In Dec. 2003 I move back to Alberton to live with my parents while Ethel and I searched for an apartment.

In Feb. 2004 I move into my very first apartment where I currently enjoy living independently and entertaining friends and family. Some of the barriers I face on a daily basis are transportation, employment, the types of work I can do are limited because of my disability and the lack of available resources that are out there for me aren’t always available. Some employers see my disability and never give me the opportunity to prove my abilities. I applied for many different jobs but for one reason or another, the door just keeps on closing. While I am not working I have a passion for helping people with disability who are unable to speak up for themselves or any of the issues and concern they may have. From time to time I get phone call from these people with a disability looking for supports or information – the only thing I can do is point them in the right direction.

I firmly believe it is important set goals and dare to dream. There may be challenges along the way but there are groups and organizations that are willing to help in any way they can. If you are willing to share your dream and goals with others you will find out all the available resources that are out there for you.

I am quite involved in my community I am a member of the West Prince Housing committee for Community Inclusions, board member of Community Inclusions, member of the Canadian Council of the Blind Prince County chapter, P.E.I. People First, and the Tignish Association for Community living.

I am well aware of the housing situation in P.E.I. As well as in the West Prince area for People with intellectual disabilities are being forced in community care facilities or nursing homes at a young age because of the lack of housing that is available for these individuals. Parents and caregivers are getting older and they are also getting burned out and becoming very concerned about where their son or daughter may end up living when they are no longer able to look after then. The Government needs to put proper housing in place for people with intellectual disability where they should have the right to live in their own community as independently as possible We all need to work together as a team to help people with intellectual disabilities fight for their right so they can live in their on community.

We all have a role and a responsibility to let people know in our community as well as government about the housing situation and if there isn’t any support soon many people with intellectual disabilities will end up in community care facilities or nursing homes at a young age. These places are not appropriate for these individuals. It doesn’t matter what type of disability you may have determination and motivation will get you closer to your goal. People with disabilities should have the same rights as everyone else. Don’t give up fighting for your own rights.


For more information on Employment, please visit Social Policy Reform and Systems Change.