Arpen Lijjar (left)

Arpen Lijjar (left)

Celebrating ability, not disability

Independent Living Vernon is celebrating the inaugural Independent Living Day across Canada.

Independent Living Vernon is bringing awareness to its disability services by celebrating the inaugural Independent Living Day across Canada.

On June 6 from 1 to 4 p.m., ILV will host an open house to spread the word to the community about the programs it offers.

The point of the open house is to show people what and where ILV is, said Crystal Williams, a youth transition outreach worker.

The theme this year is “focus(ing) on people’s abilities.” Speakers will present their stories at the open house and share tales of accomplishments and challenges. Snacks for guests will also be provided.

“It’s important to recognize the positive things anyone has accomplished,” said practicum worker Arpen Lijjar.

The problem that ILV faces is that people are unaware of the services it offers.

“We’re the best-kept secret,” said Lisa Kongsdorf, one of the support workers at ILV. “People say ‘I didn’t know about you guys. I didn’t know what you did.’ It usually is through word of mouth.

“Until people get affected by disability, they don’t know where to go.”

Practicum student Ashley Judge said she was unaware of the opportunities offered by ILV until she started working there.

“There are so many resources and services here and people can get the help they need (quickly),” said Judge.

There are more than 20 independent living centres across Canada. The non-profit organization has been in Vernon for 24 years.

Some of the services ILV provides include help with filling out and filing disability tax credits, disability benefits, special transportation subsidies and applying for CPP disability. It also has programs like the youth transitioning drop-in and the parking permit program for those who are in need of parking placards.

There are also two social workers on site as well as an indoor rowing machine and a trail rider for those who are in need of assistance during hikes.

Kongsdorf said they help individuals with all types of disabilities as it does not matter what type of disability a person may have.

The office is open Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., located at the People Place, 3402-27th Ave. Call 250-545-9292 for more information.