Uncertainty regarding his own son's transition from school to adulthood, prompted a Calgary man to envision and construct a place where adults with Down syndrome can live independently while continuing to receive support.
Daylen's Place, located between Calgary and Okotoks, currently has a single resident — the home's namesake — but plans are in place to welcome more into the two homes in the near future.
Greg Toews and his adult son Daylen have an incredible relationship.
"Best friends?" asks Greg,
"Forever!" Daylen shouts in response.
Daylen is a bright, happy 18-year-old with Down syndrome and recently he moved into what Greg hopes will be his son's forever home.
"Down syndrome is a special gift," said Towes while embracing his son in his arms. "Daylen simplifies the world, we complicate it."
When Toews dropped Daylen off at school for his first day of Grade 10 several years ago, he realized that in short time his boy would graduate and there wasn't a plan in place for what would come next.
“I wanted to come up with an idea for Down syndrome kids which included life skills and independent living," explained Toews. "These kids are no different than we are. They need the confidence and the drive and just a little extra push to get them where they need to be."
He spent the next years conceiving Daylen’s Place, an opportunity to provide his son with a future where he would learn new skills, gain independence and grow.
Toews says he was at the D'Arcy Ranch Golf Club when he spotted the perfect location. "I actually jumped off at Hole 3 to go and purchase this land."
After months of construction — and a lot of help with design and building — Daylen’s Place is now a reality.
The one-of-a-kind housing and living experience is specifically tailored to support safe and independent living for adults with Down syndrome.
Situated just outside Okotoks, the residential facility includes two beautiful 4,200 square foot homes, each with seven master suites and state-of-the-art common areas.
The dual residences each have room for three men and three women as well as accommodations for caregivers. The home features many customizations and security features and is equipped with everything needed to support learning and creativity.
Over the last month, Daylen has transitioned to living in the residence with his caregiver from Monday to Friday, and spends his weekends with his family.
Although he has been enjoying having the space to himself, both he and his dad are looking forward to more people moving in.
"I just want to give the opportunity to other families to have Daylen’s experience," said Toews. "In one month, it's already shown a night-and-day difference on performance and confidence and just the smile on his face."
Toews hopes to engage with business owners in Okotoks to find meaningful jobs for their residents, further integrating them into the community. "For now, we’re going to volunteer Daylen’s time with whoever’s willing to work with the kids."
He also invites parents of adults with Down syndrome to visit Daylen's Place. "I think once they bring their kids out here, they'll see it’s a win-win for everybody."
For more information visit Daylen's Place