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Sault marks 70 years of Community Living Algoma

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Dozens gathered at the steps of Sault Ste. Marie’s city hall Friday for a moment 70 years in the making.

Dozens gathered at the steps of Sault Ste. Marie’s city hall Friday for a moment 70 years in the making. For the first time in its history, Community Living Algoma had its flag raised at the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre. (Photo from video)

For the first time in its history, Community Living Algoma had its flag raised at the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre.

Gordon Draper from Community Living North in Wawa made the trip to help Mayor Matthew Shoemaker raise the flag.

“It represents our shared values and encourages a sense of belonging and responsibility among all people,” Draper said.

“In this context, flags also serve as a symbol of this historical milestone.”

Afterward, the crowd took part in the second annual Community Living Awareness Walk with flags, streamers, and green and blue apparel on full display as they strolled up the boardwalk to the library.

John Policicchio, Community Living Algoma executive director, said it’s getting out in the community, as well as having fun with staff and clients, that’s most critical about the day.

“The visibility for us is really, really important,” Policicchio said.

“Our work is all about people being included, being citizens in our community, participating, working, living. And we want to also acknowledge just the efforts that have been taking place over the years for the community to be more embracing that diversity, accepting diversity.”

Community Living Algoma currently serves 600 children, and adults with intellectual disabilities.

The organization provides housing support, employment services, and student programs.

“Community Living Algoma makes sure that we have an inclusive community,” Shoemaker said.

“(It) makes sure that people feel like they are part of Sault Ste. Marie, regardless of ability, regardless of social status. And they've been doing that for 70 years. And so we have come a long way in those 70 years.”

Policicchio said Community Living has come a long way since it started in 1954.

“We … have moved from being an institution and taken away from their moms and dads to now people are residing in neighbourhoods in our community. They have friends in this community. They live here, they work here, they play here.”

May is Community Living Awareness Month across Ontario.

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