Hello Premier Redford,
My name is Paul Sawka. I am the Awareness Leader at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society. CDSS began in Calgary in 1987 and has been part of the Alberta community ever since.
I have accomplished a lot of great things in my life, but I could not have done it without the help of my family, friends, and support workers.
On behalf of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, I want to talk to you about how important it has been to have support through the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program. I am one of the many people in Alberta who has benefited from PDD support. Through PDD, I am able to have support workers.
It is very important for me to have support workers to help me. I have three support workers. One helps me at work, and two help me with my personal life.
One place I really appreciate their support is with my sports. Without my support workers to help me get to where I need to go I might not be able to play Special Olympics sports or swim on the Calgary Dolphins swim team. Playing sports is good for my health and also gives me an opportunity to be part of a team. I have met many friends playing sports. The friendships I have made through my activities are very important to me and I would be very sad if I was no longer able to be a part of these activities.
I also have a support worker who helps me at my job. I would not be able to do my job without support. She comes to the Canadian Down Syndrome Society office to help me with my work tasks.
By having help at work I am able to hold a job and make money to support myself. I was even able to move out on my own. I am very proud that I can afford to live in my own apartment. I pay taxes, like everyone else. I contribute to society and to Alberta’s growth.
If my supports were taken away because there was not enough funding my life would change a lot. I would be stuck living with my parents and I likely wouldn’t have the great job that I have. I also would probably not be able to play sports and have the friendships that I have. I would be very sad if these things were to happen.
All the things in my life that I am very proud of would be taken away from me because I wouldn’t have the help I need to accomplish them. Losing my support would change my life negatively but it would be worse for many other people with disabilities.
I am lucky because I am capable of many things. I went to university and I got a job. I know how to take public transportation. I can accomplish great things but I still need some help sometimes. There are many other people with disabilities who would have a much harder time accomplishing all that I have or are unable to accomplish those things. If those people lose their funding they would not have any way to get money and support themselves. I think the government would be wrong to take away funding because we need the money to have our own lives.
I hope you listen to what I have said. A lot of people are speaking out about this important issue and as a self-advocate working at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, I am able to represent people with Down syndrome.
I am proud to give voice to Albertans with developmental disabilities.
Thank you for your time,
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