We want to be considered as average employees, trained on the job. Yes, it may take us a little longer, but so what? Heck with that!
People First helped me. It's a matter of human spirit. You can't live without it. Maybe I'd be dead if I was still in the institution. People First stands for active involvement, citizens, real jobs, doing real work, respect, being seen as people with power over our lives, learning new things, making friends. We say look at our abilities, not our disabilities, and we want to share our vision with you. We are people first. We do not want to be poor all our lives. We want to be part of the community.
People First taught me what real self-advocacy means. It means having a real job and having a real home. I don't want to be labeled anything but "a human being;" that's what I am.
Everyone wants to live in the community and have a job of their own choosing. We have joined the Employment Equity Coalition and joined in a rally on Capitol Hill. We said that we didn't want sheltered workshops anymore.
We've taken on other issues, like opposing sterilization. The case of "Eve" went to the Canadian Supreme Court and People First members went to the Court to support her.
Believe in yourself and people will believe in you. I can now do so many things that I wouldn't have thought I would be able to do. We have a vision, real goals and ideas. We can make decisions; we don't need to be talked at. Sure we need help sometimes but not people telling us what to do. We can contribute and we want the community to listen.
Patrick Worth lives in Toronto, Canada.