The team at Youth Without Limits took the opportunity to fill us in about the great work they are doing at the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, recipient of Vancouver’s Access and Inclusion award. Stacey Francis has been a strong advocate for youth living with cerebral palsy, and is now coordinating a peer program! Stacey graciously answered our questions about the group.
Tell us about your program.
It has always been a goal of mine to start a support service for disabled people because it was a service that was always lacking yet needed. Fortunately I have been an active member and volunteer for the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC (CPABC) and I got hired a long with my Co-worker and friend Lauren Stinson to plan and facilitate our support group Youth Without Limits.
Youth Without Limits is the only support group that I know of in BC that is facilitated by disabled people for their disabled peers. The age range is for youth and young adults between the ages of 13-29, however our group is not limited to that age range. There are currently older participants in the group as well and we are always looking to have youth to join us. We discuss a wide range of topics every three weeks. The topics we discuss involve issues that affect the disabled community directly and are often not talked about in mainstream society. Past sessions have included discussions surrounding disability and identity and segregation of disabled people in history. Each week we will be having guest speakers join us to share their insight and expertise. You can find out more on our website!
What does youth leadership look like in your program?
We are all for youth leadership. Personally that is one of my objectives for Youth Without Limits. I believe that youth can become leaders in our program by simply having an outlet to discuss complex issues and have a solid support system. Having older mentors to look up too is important. I want the younger generation of disabled youth and all members of the disabled community to know that their struggles matter. Their opinions and their voices matter. My hope is that we encourage and assist disabled people to be confident and have self worth and self esteem so that we can all be strong advocates for ourselves and the disabled community.
What do you think about the statement, “peers do it better.”
When thinking about the statement, “Peers do it better.” I think about the way that our program is run and the importance of it. Youth Without Limits is run by disabled people for disabled people. We know what we are talking about when discussing and presenting these issues because us facilitators have experienced them first hand. When talking about and reflecting on our group, disabled peers do it better than able bodied peers because we can relate. Having and understanding, first hand experience, and knowledge is key to making a valuable impact.
Where does sexual health and wellbeing fit in to your work?
We are actually going to have a Youth Without Limits session on sexual health and wellbeing. From my experience as a disabled person it seems to me that sexuality is something that is believed to be non existent in the disabled community. To talk about sex, or perhaps even think about sex seems to be taboo in mainstream society. As a result, disabled people do not know where to go or who to talk to when it comes to sexual health and well being. Often times many doctors and medical practitioners do not know how to deal with a disabled person seeking sexual health needs. I would like to acknowledge that disabled people are sexual beings just like anyone else and we need to start being open and comfortable talking about the issues that surround sex and disability.
For more information or to register please visit our web page at: http://bccerebralpalsy.com/programs/youth-without-limits-support-group/.
Thank you so much, Stacey, for introducing us to Youth Without Limits. It’s always great to connect with folks that share our values around peer education and youth leadership. We encourage our members and supporters to check out CPABC and Youth Without Limits, and we look forward to working collaboratively with this youth support group!