Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Development centre shows heart is beautiful

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I am a 19-year-old employee at the Manitoba Developmental Centre, currently feeling disgusted after reading Will Braun's article about wanting MDC residents with mental disabilities out in the community (Development centre's time is past, Oct. 1). In stating his concerns, Braun also manages to cut down and belittle MDC, my workplace.

Growing up in Portage la Prairie, I was aware of the MDC. But when it came to job searching, it was always at the bottom of my list. I didn't think it was a job best-suited to me or if I would be any good at it. A few years later as I matured, however, I decided I wanted to give it a try.

I can honestly say in the three short months I have worked at the MDC, it has opened up my eyes and showed me just how beautiful the human heart can be.

Braun apparently likes to live in the past. He talks about MDC's past using words such as "tragic," "cringe-inducing," and "disturbing." He says he has heard of "inhumane treatments" in the 1960s and 1970s. I think we are all aware that in the past things were done differently. Someone's past, or the past history of something shouldn't matter despite how terrible it was. What matters is how they are functioning in the present, and MDC, in my eyes, is functioning just fine.

The idea residents could be discharged into the community saddens me. Braun says "those who are able can now participate in household tasks, decide what to eat and come and go as they please."

But what about those who are lower functioning and are unable to make these decisions? I understand community living demonstrates independence and freedom. Some residents, however, need more support and care than others that they just won't receive in the community.

And what about their level of safety and security? Community living opens up many windows for crime and abuse.

It is time for the MDC to stop being viewed in such a negative light. I am tired of hearing it is an institution and it's horrible from people who have either never set foot on the grounds or haven't spent more than a few hours touring it.

Braun says that after touring the MDC "homey is not a word that comes to mind."

In my opinion, "home" does not refer to the physical house or facility one lives in; it's the care and love that is given from the people who support you every day.

The MDC offers some of the greatest activities, such as going on various outings around the community and nearby cities, the opportunity to go to camp, attend church and concerts, get dressed up and go to dances, sing karaoke and many more.

It's all thanks to the excellent staff who make the experience at the MDC enjoyable. Whether it's the sincere excitement I see on a resident's face when they're counting down the days until they get to go to camp, seeing residents dance and sing at church or at a concert, or even hearing something as simple as a resident's laughter, this is what makes my job truly rewarding and makes me think we must be doing something right here at the MDC.


Kristen McMurray is a Portage la Prairie resident.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 2, 2013 A11

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