What is the history and mission of the Beaufort Association?
The Beaufort Association was founded in the late 1950s by a group of parents, teachers, and friends who sought to provide supportive services for families in the Comox Valley and end the custom of sending children with developmental disabilities away to institutions. They incorporated as a nonprofit registered charity in 1960 and focused on building and operating a school for children with special needs, as well as providing support for families in the form of residential and respite care.
The Beaufort School was built on the grounds of Courtenay Elementary School, and the Society owned and operated the building, provided supplies and equipment, wages for teaching assistants, and transportation for the children. The School District provided a Special Education Teacher. The Society’s goal was for some integration to take place, at least in the playground.
In the late 1960s, the Beaufort Association began operating Sandwick Lodge, a twelve-bed residential facility for the Ministry of Social Services. It was also around this time that the Provincial Mental Health Branch approached the Association to consider operating an adult residence at Bevan. Beaufort Association Directors felt that embarking on this project would put too great a strain on this volunteer organization, so the Bevan Lodge Society was created to manage the adult project.
As the School District assumed responsibility for the education of children and the Bevan Lodge Society provided residential and day program services for adults, Beaufort Association focused on community education and advocacy. It provided some financial support through its transportation contracts and fundraising for ‘Special Needs’ students at G. P. Vanier secondary school and the adults who attended the Lillian Lefcoe Adult Training Centre.
In 1988, with the closure of the sheltered workshop, Beaufort Association was awarded a contract to provide ‘community-based day services’ for fifteen adults, which took the form of the Quest Personal Development Program. In 1990, the Ministry of Social Services asked the Association to take on an additional day program, the Community Options Program, which serves approximately eighteen adults.
The Association has supported program participants to pursue paid employment opportunities over the years. In July 2018, Beaufort Association replaced its retiring Executive Director and began an ambitious program of renewal, setting about accomplishing a series of goals to create an ideal environment to support its participants. It updated participants’ Individual Plans with participants and family/caregivers, changed its name to Beaufort Association for Inclusion in Action, and committed to community inclusion for its participants and Association. Its day program participants are supported in attending community-based educational, social, and recreational activities, including volunteer and/or paid employment.