The Christian Horizons Foundation provides funding to the ongoing work of Christian Horizons in Canada and around the world . We fund projects that further the vision, are strategic in nature, and that can not be funded by governmental grants.
Families that experience disabilities face unique joys and challenges on a daily basis. The Christian Horizons Family Camp is focused on encouraging and equipping families in a fun, relaxing and inclusive environment where families can share their challenges and experiences.
In 2019, in part due to support from the Christian Horizons Foundation, three camps were hosted by Christian Horizons. This included 29 families and 102 total family members, supported by 50+ volunteers.
Story of Matthew at Family Camp – Elim Lodge
Because you care, people like Matthew got to experience being part of a community of belonging at our Family Camp – Elim Lodge, near Peterborough Ontario, this summer. In August, Dwayne Milley, attended our Family Camp. For the week, he volunteered as a camper assistant, supporting Matthew.
Dwayne recounts that the pair would walk a lot and that the horse and wagon rides were a big hit. They tried out the pontoon ride, sitting up front with the wind blowing in their faces. And at the end of the week, they led the entire Family Camp in “Oh Canada,” as part of the Family Talent Show.
The beauty of camp was that Dwayne and Matthew set aside their typical day-to-day bustle and commitments, they relaxed, and they made space to be with other people, enjoying each others’ presence.
When Jim and Adrienne Reese started the ministry of Christian Horizons in the 1960s, they began by creating camp experiences for children who lived with disabilities. For many, their career with Christian Horizons started at camp. For others, it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and the highlight of the year. Dwayne summarized his time at camp this way, “My legs were tired at the end of the week, but my soul was filled, my spirit was lifted.”
Communities are not whole unless everyone is included, everyone is using their gifts and everyone has a voice. The Christian Horizons Foundation has funded support for self advocates to find their voice.
In 2019 the Christian Horizons Foundation funded 75 people to attend a conference on self advocacy. This has resulted in 15 groups forming across Ontario and Saskatchewan.
Quotes from new self advocates:
“It’s ok to advocate and speak up for myself.” – Ryan
“Our voices need to be heard, our voice matters, and we can make a difference in the world.” – Janet
“I am more independent than I thought.” – Amanda
“I want to start my own group to get affordable housing and have the government listen to us.” – Janet
“Giving back to my community.” – Jessica
“Attend another conference.” – George
“Standing up for myself when I need to.” – Tiffani
“Helping people know everybody belongs and cheering for everyone in the community.” – Karen S
A Story from The Self Advocacy Conference
Nicole and Velvet, self advocates, write about the conference: Our Voice Matters is a self advocacy movement that stands up for the rights of people who experience disabilities. They held a conference in June last year in Ontario. We (Nicole Giesbrecht and Velvet Tate) went with other people who choose Christian Horizons services and participated in the two-day conference. There were breakout sessions and keynote speakers that focused on teaching how to become your own self advocate and start your own self advocacy group.
It was a very wide-open environment – very welcoming and non-judgemental. We made a lot of friends at the conference. Nicole experienced a lot more joy and Velvet experienced more confidence. We both loved all the pop we drank. Velvet says the most challenging thing about the trip was eating healthy! Nicole thinks the most challenging part of the trip was the long flight. Velvet enjoyed having the independence and freedom of a hotel room and liked hearing other’s success stories. Nicole enjoyed the comradery and also comforting others who were facing challenges of their own.
Velvet got to share this piece of wisdom “You can do anything you put your mind to – don’t let anyone tell you any different – don’t let anybody push you around.” Nicole shared that “If you are going through hard times in life, go for your dreams! In closing, we would like to say that we would like to do motivational speaking, help others who are facing challenges, and help others become successful. In our personal lives, we want the same things for ourselves. Already, these self advocates have taken a leadership rolein their communities. They have been leading initiatives around voting and citizenship and have emceed a regional meeting that brought together Executive Directors from across the sector, as well as our government partners. More speaking engagements have taken place and are lined up for the new year, as well as a partnership with Inclusion Saskatchewan, who has been engaged in self advocacy work in the province for many years.