Mark’s brother Paul has always been filled with joy.

It’s time to celebrate! Community Living Toronto (CLTO) is celebrating 75 Years of Belonging. We are talking to people who have been involved with us over the years to share their memories and what 75 Years of Belonging means to them. This is what Mark said about his family’s experience.

My name is Mark. Hello! 

People have always loved my brother, Paul. Nursing attendants and caregivers like having him around because he’s such a character. He always has a smile on his face. Because he has an intellectual disability he doesn’t talk much, but you know when he’s happy because he’ll curse you out if he isn’t. He’s just got a happy demeanour all the time. He’s 63 years old now, and it’s the way he’s been throughout his life. 

Growing up with a brother who had an intellectual disability really put a spotlight on what it means to belong. As a kid, Paul loved riding his bike. He had a thing about riding it over the curb, though, so he was always getting flat tires. We were lucky to live in a close-knit neighbourhood. Everyone was always looking out for “Uncle Pauly.” That was pretty special, and it gave us huge peace of mind. 

For Mark, “belonging” is looking out for one another.

My family got involved with Community Living Toronto soon after Paul was born. My parents would always do stuff with CLTO – for example, my dad was really involved with the programs at the Lawson location in Scarborough. Once I was older and able to help out financially I stepped up, too. 

“Everyone is equal in the water. Because it doesn’t matter what your disability is, we’re all just floating around.”

My love was the Shadow Lake Centre – the CLTO camp that Paul would go to. He was an amazing swimmer. When the camp needed stuff, we loved donating water-related items so that people could be equal. I’ve always thought, “Everyone is equal in the water. Because it doesn’t matter what your disability is, we’re all just floating around.” 

We benefited so much from CLTO’s services. Respite support was really important for us – it helped our family to be resilient. As people with developmental and intellectual disabilities go through life, they have parents and brothers and sisters who love them and provide so much support, but also need to take time for their own self-care. That’s another thing about Shadow Lake – it gave Paul a chance to have his own adventures, and my mom had peace of mind and could be at her best to support him when he got home.

CLTO offers various flexible short-term care options outside of the home. These supports can be provided for a few hours, a few days, or up to a week to meet the needs of children and adults with an intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder who live in the community with a parent or caregiver. In addition to our year-round programs for adults and children with an intellectual disability, CLTO’s respite choices include camp at Shadow Lake Centre, and after-school programs. Follow the link to learn more about Shadow Lake Centre:

If we are celebrating our 75th anniversary at CLTO, then kudos to all CLTO staff. It’s a sign that the work is relevant. There is clearly still a need, and there are still amazing people wanting to help. So, that’s the nice thing about looking at how far we have come.

We are celebrating 75 Years of Belonging and invite you to be part of creating 75 more! Add your name now to show your support.


75 more years of belonging.
Add your name now if you agree: “People with an intellectual disability belong in our community!”

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