Sometimes, she isn’t treated the same way as other passengers when she takes the eastbound 191 bus from Lachine to get to Concordia University.
“Some people give me mean looks,” said Hannah Lusthaus, a 25-year-old volunteer at Concordia who currently works as the CD librarian for CJLO radio.
People like Lusthaus are the reason why next week has been declared the Week for the Intellectually Challenged. However, there is very little planned by the university to acknowledge this special week.
The Concordian spoke with 31-year-old Marianne Roldan, the Integration Agent at the West Montreal Readaptation Centre on Loyola campus, who is responsible for making sure that people like Lusthaus get integrated into society.
“On the bus [some people] don’t want to sit next to [them],” she said. “They are afraid and don’t know how to acknowledge them,” she added.
Roldan’s work includes helping them find jobs, for which Lusthaus is thankful. “[They helped] me big time,” Lusthaus said. “I wouldn’t be where I am right now.” She loves working with the CDs and records, as she happens to be a big music fan.
Lusthaus, who also does some work for the men’s basketball team, is just one of the many intellectually challenged people who work at Concordia doing various odd jobs ranging from recycling duties to doing the athletes’ laundry. The West Montreal Readaptation Centre has also helped people get jobs at McGill, the STM and other organizations.
Despite a few mean looks on the bus, Lusthaus said that she has no trouble getting along with the students and the staff at Concordia. “I have friends everywhere I go,” she said. “I’m a popular woman.”
But Roldan still feels that a lot more can be done. “We’re maybe a few years behind,” said Roldan.
She then made a comparison between the reality faced by intellectually challenged people living in North America and those living in Europe where she feels that they are more openly accepted. She claims that in Europe they are integrated into society whereas in Quebec the tendency is to cover for them with short-term solutions.
While that may be changing slowly, Roldan pointed out that in Europe, an intellectually challenged person would be considered a paid employee, unlike here where a company usually hires them if they don’t have to pay them.
That is the case with Hannah Lusthaus who doesn’t make any money at Concordia. But her work does allow her to receive a conditional allowance from the readaptation centre in addition to social security from the government. The goal of the program is train her so that she can eventually become fully integrated into the work force.
Marianne Roldan will set up an information table, on behalf of the West Montreal Readaptation Centre, on March 20, at Loyola’s Guadangi Lounge, located on the top floor of the Central Building.