How often do you come across someone willing to give up love for a great place to live? Christie Ladner laughs as she recounts the story. She was involved with someone for a long time, and they were going to get married. But there were a lot of issues towards the end of the relationship, one of them being that her fiancé did not want to live at Tobias House. So she had to decide: “I love him, but I love living at Tobias a little more.” So the wedding was off. It’s a story that says a lot about Christie: great sense of humour, sharp wit, determination to be true to herself, and appreciation for the good things in her life.
A Carlton consumer for seven years, Christie has a genuine love for Tobias House. (“I think they’re one of the best organizations when it comes to attendant care.”) Which is why she has also been a member of the Tobias House Board of Directors for two years, an activity she wryly characterizes as “interesting more than enjoyable.” Nevertheless, she’s grateful to be in an environment where she can be as independent as she wants and still have her needs met, an attitude she feels is right for working on the board as well.
With a BA in psychology from York University, Christie is deeply interested in the area of youth to adulthood transition. She used to work on the Door To Adulthood website, sponsored by Bloorview, until its funding was cut. She still writes for the Bloorview website, as well as Abilities magazine, and is involved in research on youth transition. She notes that there are lots of gaps in our systems, and if you are not careful, young people can fall through, which Christie sees as a waste. “There are lots of opportunities people don’t take up. Youth have a lot to offer the world. People with disabilities are often put into different categories, and it doesn’t work. It’s important to look at the individual. Youth always have a lot to say.”
Youth and Tobias House are not the only things close to Christie’s heart. There’s also fellow Carlton consumer Matt Freeman. They’ve been a couple for four months now. “I’m all about gratitude and waking up everyday and just thinking about things that are good in my life, and Matt thinks it’s just BS. That’s why we get along. We mesh so well.” More laughter. “I’m critical too, but I choose to be polite first. People listen when you’re calm but direct. I have a lot to say, but you’d have to sit down with me to know that. The people who take the time to get to know me are the ones I would want in my life, and that makes it worthwhile.” We’re rather glad we did.