Increasing Independence, One Bus at a Time - Salvation Army Canada

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  • Sep29Thu

    Increasing Independence, One Bus at a Time

    Salvation Army in Hamilton, Ontario, launches new program for people with developmental disabilities September 29, 2011 by Julia Hosking
    Filed Under:
    Territorial News
    Starting in November, The Salvation Army Lawson Ministries, Hamilton, Ont., will be teaching people with developmental disabilities how to safely use Hamilton's public transport system, the HSR.

    Through to September 2013, 200 people will participate in two months worth of group and one-on-one practical training. Students will be equipped with knowledge regarding personal safety, bus routes, what to do if they accidentally board the wrong bus, where to purchase tickets and how to respond to on-the-street crisis situations. All graduates of the Community Access to Transportation program, or “The CAT,” will then receive one years' supply of bus passes.

    “Learning to travel independently provides individuals with freedom and independence to get to work, social activities, volunteer positions and school. This empowers the people we support at Lawson to be an active part of their community,” says Deanna Finch-Smith, executive director, Lawson Ministries, a community-based, residential support program designed to support adults with developmental disabilities and psychiatric issues.

    Lawson Ministries is responsible for the delivery of this project, however is in partnership with the Developmental Services—Transportation Committee (DSTC) and funding, to the value of $400,000 is provided by the City of Hamilton.

    Currently, the city offers a transportation system known as DARTS, Hamilton's Disabled and Aged Regional Transportation, for people who have certain medical conditions and/or use scooters, wheelchairs and walkers. However, as Finch-Smith notes, DARTS requires a booking system and involves lengthy wait times.

    “The goal with The CAT is to train 200 people with developmental disabilities to travel safely and independently on the HSR,” says Finch-Smith. “This will lead to a decrease in the DARTS wait list, support for individuals to travel throughout the city and increased freedom for families who are the current method of transportation for people with developmental disabilities.”

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