Shared Dreams for Independent Living was founded, in November 2013, by five families who are determined to change the status quo around how people who live with disabilities enjoy their lives.
Incorporated in Ontario as a Not-for-Profit corporation in November 2015, this group of families, and a growing number of community members, is working to shift the paradigm from one of providing a residential and/or developmental service to one of providing what all contributing members of the city and the province deserve – a home of their own and a life of their own design. The Corporation’s intention is to create a supportive, person-centred, family-directed and –driven, permanent home for five young men with developmental challenges, who have chosen to live together.
This group of Peterborough families is working to support local agencies and various levels of government to find solutions that meet the unique physical and developmental challenges of their sons, while ensuring that their family values of love, laughter, faith, commitment and sharing remain strong.
Shared Dreams’ first five housemates are:
The Vision of Shared Dreams
The Mission Statement of Shared Dreams
Shared Dreams for Independent Living is a person-centered, family-directed, permanent home for persons living with developmental challenges who have chosen to live their lives together, in a well-established community. The objectives are consistent with those of the Corporation’s community partners, as individual needs and goals are addressed, new connections are created, and respect and inclusion are promoted. Shared Dreams for Independent Living values the principles of self-determination and diversity, and supports the growth of independence, natural support networks and shared life experience.
To this end, Shared Dreams believes:
- All people have the right to experience a sense of belonging, a home of their own, and a life of their own design;
- It is possible for people who live with disabilities to enjoy sustainable, inclusive housing, and adequate, appropriate support away from their families;
- Persons living with disabilities, along with their chosen supporters, have the capacity to define the kind of supports, spaces and environments that are necessary to sustain a happy, productive, nurturing and healthy life and home;
- Family and community partnerships are necessary to create and sustain a supportive, person-centered, family-directed and -driven, permanent, sustainable home for people who live with unique abilities and disabilities and who have chosen to live together.
- As a Corporation, Shared Dreams has the responsibility to show what is possible when people who live with disabilities, their families and the community become partners in envisioning a future where people live into their best lives, outside of institutional programs and service systems.
Shared Dreams Values
- The principles of self-determination and diversity;
- The growth of independence, natural support networks and shared life experiences; and,
- Community partnerships that nurture individual hopes and dreams, as well as address needs and goals, while promoting respect and inclusion.
The Goals of Shared Dreams
- That all persons living within Shared Dreams for Independent Living lead safe, comfortable, meaningful lives as contributing citizens of Peterborough;
- That this person-centered initiative benefits from family leadership and ongoing guidance, and from long-term community partnerships, which will ensure its financial sustainability; and,
- That the housemates, who have varying support needs, have opportunities to utilize their many strengths and abilities while experiencing personal growth, independence, and meaningful community involvement.
The Objectives of Shared Dreams
- To provide stable and ongoing residential accommodation and/or care and incidental facilities for adult persons living with physical and/or intellectual disabilities who have mobility, access and/or support needs;
- To assist these persons living with disabilities to maximize independence in maintaining a household;
- To assist them to maintain and build connections and relationships with family members, friends, and other community members and resources; and,
- To foster and sustain relationships and partnerships with other community service agencies serving persons living with disabilities for the purposes of attaining the above-noted objects.
The intended impacts of Shared Dreams
- Shared Dreams will provide a permanent home for adults with diverse gifts and challenges – a home separate from family, yet welcoming to friends, family and support persons, according to individual choice;
- Shared Dreams respects each person’s established identity within their community, which provides safe and supported social opportunities. Shared Dreams will also respect the achievements of each person, while promoting their further growth and maturation. Shared Dreams will build upon each resident’s community engagement and personal identity. Each person will enjoy new opportunities to further develop their identity as an adult independent of their family;
- Shared Dreams values diversity and the dignity of risk, fosters individual growth and resilience, and values individual priorities over system priorities. Crisis-driven decision-making disrupts the growth, identity and engagement that the residents have worked so hard to attain. As individuals, Sean, Christopher, Dan, Matthew and Jason have chosen to share life together, and this choice will be respected;
- The families will be fully involved in managing the transition of their sons to the Shared Dreams home, and will offer ongoing support and guidance in the home’s operation. Because the proactive approach to transition for these young men is not supported by the criteria now used to guide priority-setting in the funded residential service system, the residents’ family members have united to secure partners with whom to build a sustainable solution;
- Community partnerships are an integral part of the support plan in developing Shared Dreams as a sustainable home. New and innovative partnerships will promote awareness and acceptance, enriching the whole community;
- Shared Dreams will create a mutually beneficial process of accommodation and change in both our own neighborhood and the broader community. The expectations of Shared Dreams may at times challenge the status quo, but our collective experience has shown us that most people want to accommodate and include others;
- This innovative housing model will be cost effective through partnerships with community-based service organizations, mainstream funding sources, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care;
- Securing a broad funding base comprising each resident’s personal community, the Peterborough community, provincial government, and philanthropic donors, will reduce the pressure on each separate resource;
- Shared Dreams will empower Christopher, Dan, Matthew, Sean and Jason, and their family members, to experience a planned and fully supported separation from one another. The home is about meaningful, shared lives, where each person has security, stability, choice, and opportunities. The home is a ‘best practice’ for individuals who will never know the anxiety of an unplanned move, to an unknown place, at an unknown date;
- Shared Dreams respects parents’ contributions and initiative while empowering them to step back from their role as primary caregivers and the coordinators of supports. Parents will come to experience life differently as they enjoy more natural involvement in the lives of their sons; and,
- The families know that supporting children with complex developmental challenges well into adulthood is a critical stressor on family dynamics. They acknowledge that many parents do not have the support or resources needed to join with others in creating a workable plan, as embodied in Shared Dreams for Independent Living. This innovative housing solution provides a template, which others may adapt according to their own needs. Shared Dreams for Independent Living will benefit the next generation of families by modelling interdependence between people who live with physical and/or developmental disabilities, families, government services, and community programs.