The Carlington Summit
by Sylvia Picciano.

Welcome to the first of a series of columns concerning Disability Issues. My name is Sylvia Picciano and I am the Community Resource Development Coordinator at a local agency called Disabled Persons Community Resources (DPCR). DPCR is located at 1525 Carling Avenue (between Kirkwood and Churchill) in the lower level. We are open to the public from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM daily.

This first column will serve to introduce the organization and our activities in this community. DPCR was founded in 1957 with the objective of facilitating the independence, participation and integration of persons with physical disabilities in Ottawa-Carleton. We are currently comprised of an Integrated Housing Program and a Community Support Program. The Integrated Housing Program of DPCR began in 1976. Beginning with 13 tenants residing in one location, the program has expanded to accommodate 41 tenants in three locations. Funded by the Ministry of Health, the activities of the Integrated Housing Program are divided into two main components, shelter and support care. A relatively new feature of this program is a respite care unit. This unit was established due to the increasing need for additional respite services for physically disabled adults in the Ottawa area.

The Community Support Program, funded by United Way, is an incredible effort that supports persons with disabilities in achieving and maintaining independence. This is accomplished by providing an Information and Referral Service, a Crisis Intervention and Individual Support component, a variety of Education Services and a Community Development component. Our Information and Referral Services include operating a telephone information service often times, depending on the situations, requiring creative solutions. We also operate an extensive Resource Library pertaining to disability issues (please come in and visit). As well, we currently publish several resource guides, The Resource Guide for Persons with Disabilities in Ottawa Carleton (1998), The Accessibility Guide of Ottawa-Carleton (soon to be republished) and A Guide to Accessible Housing (soon to be published).

Another key element of the Community Support Program is our service that provides Crisis Intervention and Individual Support. This is an area that continues to grow given the unstable financial climate. We have a Community Support Worker (CSW) on staff who will provide short term individual support in crisis situations. Within the scope of our educational services, we offer structured, intensive life skills training for persons with physical disabilities bridging the gap between youth and adulthood. Offered in conjunction with these life skills training sessions we offer family education programs providing parents/caregivers with information about resources.

DPCR offers “disability issues” workshops every 3rd Wednesday of the month and we are very active in delivering customized disability awareness training to the general public. In collaboration with our community partners, we continue to identify unmet needs and gaps in services as well as providing accessibility assessments. In my role as coordinator, I sit on many external committees including the Access Committee at Carlington Community and Health Services.

On a final note, DPCR is a community driven agency. Persons with disabilities provide input into the strategic planning process of all of our services. We value the role of the community and invite you to call with your input. Please feel free to call me at 724-5886.