When Stephanie dreams about her future, nothing gets in her way.
Born with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder causing developmental delays, Stephanie has faced plenty of challenges in her journey. Yet her mom, Sherry, makes it clear: her daughter is not someone who gives up on her goals.
“Stephanie has never thought of herself as different,” explained Sherry, an active volunteer and advocate for inclusion in Winnipeg.
“She’s always wanted to do, or at least try, things that other people her age were doing.”
When Stephanie was a teenager, that meant taking the same classes as her friends, graduating from high school, and going to prom. With a tremendous amount of gusto, she even went on to study at the University of Manitoba, graduating in 2018.
“I took Science, Health, Theatre. . .” Stephanie listed proudly.
Stephanie explores her creativity through weekly art classes offered by Inclusion Winnipeg, a donor-supported agency.
Now 30, Stephanie continues to hone the acting skills she began developing in university. She’s performed in several drama productions through Inclusion Winnipeg, an agency supported by generous United Way Winnipeg donors.
“Stephanie is a lively and imaginative actor,” said Sue Proctor, who teaches Stephanie’s weekly drama and art classes through Inclusion Winnipeg.
“She comes up with such interesting characters and adds creative ideas to the stories.”
After graduating from university, Stephanie began focusing on her next big endeavour: moving into her own house.
It wasn’t an easy task. But with the support of her entire family and L’Avenir Cooperative, a Winnipeg-based agency supporting people with intellectual disabilities, Stephanie’s dream came true.
“You should’ve seen Stephanie’s eyes when we asked if she wanted to move into a house with a roommate—a house that she could call home,” said Sherry.
“She was so excited. The good news spread like wildfire throughout our families.”
For over a year now, Stephanie has shared a two-bedroom home with support from L’Avenir. She’s thrilled to have her own space, including a private rec area in the basement where she can paint, do yoga, and watch Jets games.
Stephanie enjoys spending her spare time in her rec area, which generous donors helped turn into a cozy and warm space.
Like most older character homes, some repairs and upgrades were needed to make Stephanie’s space feel cozier and more inviting, especially in the unfinished basement.
Thanks to a partnership between Manitoba Marathon and United Way Winnipeg,* Stephanie was delighted to receive a grant to assist with these costs. Her grant helped transform the space with fresh coats of paint, soft carpeting in the basement, and modern window fixtures.
“Our entire extended family and friends could not have been happier for her,” her mom shared.
“Living independently was one of Stephanie’s biggest dreams—and United Way Winnipeg donors helped make her house feel like home.”
*Together, Manitoba Marathon and United Way Winnipeg raise money to help people with intellectual disabilities transition to independent living in the community. These grants assist with the costs of furnishings and personal items Winnipeggers would need to move into their new home.