It’s one of the first of its kind in Ontario. In early fall, the city of Hamilton, Ont. will embark on a new training program that will teach people with developmental and cognitive disabilities how to use the bus.
“These are individuals who have fallen through the cracks,” says Deanna Finch-Smith, Executive Director of The Salvation Army’s Lawson Ministries. The Army is the organizing force behind the program, which is a community partnership. Says Deanna: “The course will provide independence for a group of people who, right now, have very few options for transportation.”
The two-year pilot program will educate more than 200 people. Through an eight-week class, and one-on-one lessons, students will learn personal safety, which bus routes to take, what to do if they accidentally get on the wrong bus, where to buy bus tickets, and how to respond to on-the-street crisis situations. At the end of the class, graduates will receive a year’s worth of free bus passes and a certificate of completion.
By promoting independence, the program will restore dignity to the participants. The Salvation Army believes everyone deserves fundamental human dignity. In addition, the program will decrease pressure on current transportation wait-lists and on families.
“We are excited about this opportunity,” says Deanna. “It will give participants the chance to be part of their community, something many of us take for granted.”