By Barbara Anderson (Nanaimo, B.C.)  

Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m living with a disability (diversability). I have been living on my own for 10 years and I really enjoy it. Since I moved out on my own I got to meet a lot of people. When I was a baby of six months, my birth mother had to put me up for adoption. I lived in a foster home until I was nearly a year old.

The family that adopted me is really great! My parents treated me the same as my brother and sister and never made me feel different. In my teenage years I helped my father look after my grandmother. Later on, I helped my mom take care of my father when he was sick. I then looked after my mom before she passed away. Throughout those years I had to advocate for my grandma and my parents.

Currently, I volunteer for seniors at Foodshare Nanaimo and the Good Food Box. Through volunteering, I have learned new skills and met a lot of people.

In 2014, I helped start a self-advocacy group with my peers and support worker in Nanaimo. The group is called the Self Advocates of Nanaimo. The self-advocates create presentations for the community. We were also involved in a video about living with a disability and being connected to the community. The video is titled “Food, Fun and Advocacy”. It is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BpKWRn5HgU.

This year, the Self Advocates of Nanaimo hosted two open houses during Inclusion Month. We also completed two Ride the Bus Challenges – one was to International Day for People with Disabilities and the other was to Parksville for a presentation to the CLBC regional conference.

My life experiences and the people around me help me live independently. Being involved in the community helps me feel connected and included.

Image Caption: Barbara Anderson (right) and my friend Kara Anderson (left).

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