August 19, 2016 5:14 pm

Calgary group ‘Between Friends’ gives people with disabilities sense of belonging

Participants at the Between Friends Summer's End celebration enjoyed a BBQ and performance by Tom Jackson in Calgary Aug. 17, 2016.

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The Between Friends club of Calgary, an organization that provides social and recreational activities to people with disabilities, hosted its Summer’s End BBQ on Wednesday.

The event was attended by Between Friends staff, volunteers, donors and participants and included a barbeque and performance by music icon Tom Jackson.

“We’re really giving people the opportunity to meet people to make friends, to grow and to develop skills so they can have a sense of belonging,” said Suzanne Jackett, CEO of Between Friends.

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The 750-member group is important to Calgarians as many people with disabilities are still largely marginalized and don’t tend to have the same opportunities as others.

“It’s really important in our community because people with disabilities are still on the outside,” Jackett said.

“They’re sort of on the outside looking in and what we’re trying to create is an environment in a community and a city where everyone has the opportunity to belong.”

There are many different opportunities through Between Friends, including its summer camp at Camp Bonaventure, bowling programs, movie nights and a residential sleepover camp in partnership with Easter Seals Camp Horizon.

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Tom Jackson had his own reasons for participating in the event.

“I need to be around positive things and be able to take as much of that in as I can,” Jackson said. “When I leave this park tonight, the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to go share that with someone else.”

Jackett knows that more acceptance would make all the difference in the world.

“It’s opening your eyes and opening your mind to accept people with disabilities. We are way more alike than we are different and just giving people with disabilities a chance to participate and interact is what is going to make this world and this city a better place.”

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