Two University of Calgary grad students want to promote a greater sense of community for people of all abilities, and they plan to do that through a matchmaking website they’ve created called Enable.
The site will connect people with disabilities with student caregivers.
Co-founder Sue Crawford said this kind of one-on-one peer support is generally not available in Calgary – and when it is, it’s expensive.
“We know there are more specialized roles that exist where there’s more highly-trained professionals that work in those roles, however those are obviously quite expensive, can be hard to access, and may take referrals from a physician to be able to get into those programs,” Crawford said.
“We just don’t need a nurse throwing a Frisbee.”
Mike Purdy said using students to adopt a mentoring role makes sense.
“If it’s just learning how to cook or if it’s going out to a paint class or playing some sports, whatever, we figure we can pay somebody a little bit less because they don’t have that high level of training, and that’s where the students come into play,” Purdy said.
Jamie Hall is a Calgarian whose son, David, has Down’s syndrome. Hall said there’s a real need for affordable one-to-one peer support.
“I think it would be a terrific service to have somewhere we could go to and match up a young person that could come out and spend time with David,” Hall said.
“As far as I know there’s nothing like this.”
Agencies like Between Friends in Calgary have programming that includes recreational activities for people with disabilities, but outings are typically conducted in groups.
Crawford and Purdy are still in the process of getting their new venture off the ground.
The pair plan to crowdfund and start a pilot project in August.
In the meantime, they welcome inquiries through their website.
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