Contributed photo Manjeet Changass (right), poses with Dr. Kathleen Burke, following her graduation from SFU’s Community Leaders Igniting Change program.

South Surrey self advocate driven to ignite change

Manjeet Ghangass succeeds in leadership, community engagement program

Semiahmoo Self Advocates are celebrating a special first achieved by one of their own.

Manjeet Ghangass graduated last month from SFU Surrey’s Envision Financial Community Leaders Igniting Change (CLIC) program.

“This class is open to all community members and in its 4th cohort, Manjeet was the first person with an open developmental disability to participate,” SAS involvement co-ordinator Jill Glennie told Peace Arch News by email.

“Forevermore, the people of that cohort will have that as part of their experience. They will help to be a part of the change where people with diversabilities are present, part of the conversation and seen as equally contributing members of the community.”

Semiahmoo Self Advocates was formed by Semiahmoo House Society members to support their peers with developmental disabilities, raise awareness and promote inclusion.

Among the group’s successes was a 2016 campaign to have a beach-accessible wheelchair available to those with mobility challenges who visit White Rock’s waterfront.

Given Ghangass’s commitment to that initiative, it’s little surprise that the CLIC program was a good fit. She told Peace Arch News that her efforts in the wheelchair campaign were driven by a commitment she made to some close friends in high school, after they shared some of their difficulties accessing the beach.

“I promised them that I would try to make sure (there would) be a way that they could have an easier life,” she said.

SFU’s CLIC program invited those interested in making positive change in their neighbourhood, and who wanted to learn new skills to make their efforts more effective, to apply. Inclusion, relationship-building and critical thinking were among the areas covered; guest speakers were also included.

Glennie said the SAS family is “very proud of Manjeet for wanting to be a part of this class to learn about adaptive leadership and how to engage your community in support of others.”

“She shared her appreciation with many people in her life as the class progressed,” Glennie said. “It was great to hear her tell staff about the class in hopes they would take the class next round.”

For more on the CLIC program, visit surreyprc.ca/community-leaders-igniting-change

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