Farrah is putting her community first.
In 2023 we are celebrating 75 years of Community Living Toronto (CLTO) – in other words, 75 Years of Belonging! Farrah is our Self Advocate Advisor and one of the CLTO Influencers, and this is her story about what belonging means to her.
Hello, my name is Farrah.
Growing up in Toronto with a different ability and unique needs was not easy – I’ve had a speech delay and learning disabilities since I was four years old.
But my mother knew I had potential. She was my biggest influencer and role model. I remember her challenging teachers and doctors when they told us I couldn’t do something or tried to tell her negative things. And she did it on her own – as a single parent.
Watching her fight for me is what gave me the courage to fight for myself.
For Farrah, “belonging” is having the courage to advocate for herself and others.
I read a lot of biographies about people with disabilities. People like John Draper, Michael Jacques, and Temple Grandin inspire me. And from a young age, I read a lot about Helen Keller. I say to myself, “If they can do it, I can do it, too.”
A few years ago, I participated in a program funded by United Way called Women Moving Forward. I got a paid job cleaning Community Living Toronto offices in Scarborough. It made a big difference in my life, knowing that there is no right or wrong way to do things. It helped me be more confident.
I’ve been active within my community since the age of 14, volunteering at hospitals, schools, and other non-profit organizations. I became more involved with Community Living Toronto through the Scarborough Regional Council. I wanted to share my lived experience, give feedback on how to make the City of Toronto more inclusive, and make a difference in the lives of people with different abilities.
Something I’m really proud of is being elected to the Council of Community Living Ontario (CLO). Along with others from across the province, we work with the Board of Directors to share information, opinions, knowledge, and experience on important issues, and advocate for the people of Ontario.
Community Living Ontario (CLO) is a non-profit provincial association that has been advocating for people who have an intellectual disability and their families for over 65 years. They proudly work alongside over 100 local agencies, including Community Living Toronto, and advocate on behalf of more than 80,000 people across Ontario.
I am currently employed as the Self Advocate Advisor with Community Living Toronto. I’m helping others with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be advocates, too. And I’m helping the non-disabled community to be aware of the issues and difficulties that people with disabilities face. I look forward to getting up in the morning and to the challenges that come my way every day. I see a challenge as an opportunity to grow.
Farrah is also a CLTO Influencer working to raise awareness and create positive change. CLTO Influencers promote inclusion, create respectful in-person and virtual communities, support people’s rights and choices, and educate the public about CLTO.
“An accommodation shouldn’t have to be an accommodation – do you know what I mean?”
A better world to me would be one where people of all abilities and differences have equal access to services and goods. And where more places are accessible to people who have mobility issues and need wheelchairs and walkers. Buildings should be built for all kinds of people in society. An accommodation shouldn’t have to be an accommodation – do you know what I mean?
Despite all of the challenges I’ve had in life due to having a disability, I have never given up. That’s my biggest message to people: never give up. I believe everything happens for a reason.
I want parents and families to always know that Community Living Toronto is there for you. It is a place where you will find belonging, like I have. That’s why it’s so special to be helping CLTO celebrate 75 Years of Belonging. I’m excited to be part of the next 75!
For 75 years, Community Living Toronto has been evolving, learning, and growing to support and include people with an intellectual disability. Together, let’s work toward 75 more Years of Belonging. Here is one way you can help today: Add your name below to show your support.
* By adding your name, you also agree to receive occasional emails from CLTO. You can unsubscribe at any time.