More than two millennia ago, Aristotle wrote that humans are social animals.
On Thursday, that sentiment will serve as the focus of a new evening service for adults with developmental disabilities.
Go West Recreation Club is based at the same Meaford Avenue location used by West Coast Human Services during the day. The clients for both services are people with a range of developmental disabilities, from autism to Down syndrome.
During the day, clients are assigned by Community Living B.C. The provincial agency won’t supply clients for the evening program, though funding might be available based on individual assessments.
Jodie Comerford and Keira Angus are the two young women behind the idea for Go West Recreation Club. Comerford’s father runs West Coast Human Services, where both women currently work.
“Some of our clients I’ve known for 20 years,” said Comerford, just 20 years old herself but already an experienced supervisor and manager who has grown up working with people who have developmental disabilities.
The idea for an evening social came from meetings with people involved with caring for adults with developmental disability. The goal is to provide an experience, rather than just a break for the client’s primary caregivers.
“We really want to focus on (enhancing) the quality of life of clients rather than the respite side of things,” Comerford said.
Though they can hold the nights with as few as two clients, the ideal, at least to start, is six.
“We really want to normalize it,” said Comerford, who’s studying biology and psychology at the University of Victoria. “There are clubs for people without developmental disabilities — we just want (Go West Recreational Club) to be a fun night.”
A price of $60 for three hours is reasonable, Comerford said, based on existing models of care.
The first night was held on July 5. A Hawaiian theme featured a Polynesian barbecue and the requisite shirts, as well as activities traditionally done at the beach.
On Thursday, they’re planning a carnival theme with related activities and food.
“We’re going to see what kind of client we get and it will be based around their needs, for sure,” said the 24-year-old Angus, who’s working on a degree in elementary education at UVic.
And while both women have experience dealing with people who demonstrate challenging behaviour, they say the evening program isn’t suited for people who act aggressively. It’s meant to be a social evening designed so clients can interact with each other and staff in a friendly way.
“The most important thing is we don’t want to harm the fun for others,” Angus said.
For more information on the West Coast Recreation Club, call 250-474-2238.