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My Journey

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    Jenna Martinuzzi

      I was born and raised in Toronto, live with my Mom and Gary and have lived in the same house for over 20 years. I’m 22 years old and an only child. I sometimes wished that I had a sister to spend time with and do things with. Like many people, I wish for a lot of different things. For example, I wish that I had a boyfriend, I’d like to travel and I’d really like to move into the basement apartment of Mom and Gary’s house.

      I think it is very important for adults with disabilities and their own parents to think about their future and not to be afraid of moving out of their house-it’s a natural step when people grow up. I heard about LIGHTS and contacted them on my own. Later I told my Mom about it and she was surprised to hear that I wanted to one day, move out. Mom and Gary are supportive and want to help me achieve my dream. I want other people to learn about what is involved with LIGHTS and what it really means for us to move out of our parent’s house someday. That way we can teach our parents how smart we can be and how we can be successful doing things independently and get support when we need it.

      I called LIGHTS because I need help to plan and find a room mate. I think my first step is going to be to live in the basement apartment of our house and I still need to find a room mate that I get along with who would like to do things together.

      I would recommend that you contact LIGHTS for support if you are thinking about your future or your family member’s future because it’s never too early to start thinking about the future.

      Jenna Martinuzzi

        Sarah Taissir Bencharif is a university student at Ryerson she is taking courses is Journalism she loves all her courses so much she is working on an project of Community Living Toronto and she is hoping that her interview will be aired on City TV Global News this morning she interviewed Jenna Martinuzzi and her questions were -What do you do at Community Living? -What is the purpose of Community Living? What services does it provide? -How have those services changed over time? -What is your favorite thing about Community Living? -What are some of the challenges you encounter? -How does the general public feel about and react to the work you do?
        The interview went really great today. And Sarah is so exited for her final university project.


        On March 31, 1989 My life as I knew it changed. That was the day my daughter Jenna was born.

        I’ll never forget the moment when the nurse arrived and presented my baby to me.
        The first question I asked was is it a girl or a boy. I was so pleased to learn I had given birth
        to a beautiful baby girl.

        The second question I asked was…… is everything OK? In a very matter of fact tone the nurse
        told me that my baby Was born with Down syndrome. I felt blessed.

        My sadness came in thinking that life is tough enough as it is and wondering what
        additional challenges Jenna Would Face living with a disability.

        I have my parents to thank for raising me to believe that everyone belongs and every life counts.
        They taught me that you should dream, you should reach for the stars and you should strive
        to become the best you can be.

        This is a fundamental belief system that guides me in everything I do and this led me to Community Living Toronto 23 years ago!

        Community Living opened my eyes to POSSIBILITIES .

        My inspiration has been watching Jenna develop into the beautiful young woman that she is.

        Over the years, many of the CL staff have been influential in guiding me through some challenging
        times. Their outreach helped my family specifically and armed me with the tools to advocate
        on behalf of all Persons living with a disability.

        I have also had the pleasure to become personal friends with other parents that share the
        same vision that I do. And I am touched by the accomplishments among Jenna’s peers group.

        If I had to select one significant experience that I have been involved with through my volunteerism
        at Community Living it would have to be advocating for inclusive education.

        It has been a true blessing to have had the opportunity to witness Jenna’s journey through
        the education System in an inclusive setting.

        I know that this inclusiveness directly impacted her desire and ability to be accepted
        in a post secondary program which led to a college certificate.

        A year ago I received a letter from Jenna’s grade two teacher informing me that she was
        now a principal at a primary school in Grimbsy.

        She wrote that every IPRC meeting that she attends she remembers Jenna, my advocacy
        and the importance of Including all students despite their ability in the regular classroom.

        The journey continues………


          Hi Jenna

          Good for you! My daughter moved out almost 3 years ago. She loves it. She loves being responsible for her own place – yes that includes cleaning, shopping, cooking. Everything that goes along with being an adult and living on your own. She lives in a townhouse that she rents with another young woman and a support person.
          Good luck in your quest for independence.

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