January 5, 2016
Woodlands institution opened in New Westminster on May 17, 1878 as the Provincial Asylum for the Insane, later re-named the Provincial Hospital for the Insane. In 1950 it was renamed Woodlands School, and in 1974 the name was changed again – to Woodlands. Although the asylum was originally presented as a modern approach to treating “lunatics” and the “feebleminded, it was soon criticized as gloomy and unfit for its purpose of caring for people today referred to as having psychiatric disabilities and intellectual disabilities.”
In 1981 the provincial government announced plans to close Woodlands. This was largely due to efforts of the families whose sons and daughters were in Woodlands. Later these families would be known as the “Woodlands Parents Group”. For the next fifteen years’ community placements for people residing in Woodlands were planned and carried out. Woodlands finally closed in 1996, marking the end this large institution.
The Woodlands Parents’ Group and other such groups, fought to bring about values and principles that outlined the rights of people with disability to live with dignity; participating in all aspects of community living, and sharing the same opportunities as other citizens. They wanted their children to be equal citizens and live in the community. Community – micro and macro – includes the social fabric of families, neighbourhoods, and other personal relationships. Community is what gives people social meaning and enables all to belong and feel included.
In this regard, students who will be working with people with disabilities must be engaged in the issues that impact citizens with disabilities. Previously, communities were seen as a barrier, not a resource for people with disabilities. Now through Community Living we are learning to work collaboratively with others to build inclusive communities. We are not there yet. This is the role of the learner, the student, to take charge and support people to become their own.
If you are interested in taking an active role in the Community Living continuum, contact one of Drake Medox College’s admissions advisors today @ 604 629-0196 to learn more about the Community Support Worker Diploma Program. Taranjeet Dhaliwal the author of this post is a CSW instructor at our Vancouver campus. Visit www.drakemedoxcollege.ca for more information.