If you’re looking for a unique gift or a one-of-a-kind treasure for your home, then you definitely need to visit the Camphill Store in downtown Barrie. It’s the kind of place that has a special feel, from the friendly volunteers to the beautiful pottery and hand-crafted wooden pieces to the candles and bath bombs – it’s obvious that this is so much more than a gift shop.

What makes it special? Many of the items for sale were hand-crafted in a nearby art studio by young adults supported by Camphill Communities Ontario (CCO), a not-for-profit organization that provides support services to adults and seniors in Simcoe County who have intellectual disabilities.

Fifty per cent of sales of a Camphill product at the 111 Dunlop Street location, goes right back into the pottery or word-working shop so companions can produce more goods and continue their therapeutic programs.

Diane Kyd, one of the original CCO founders, says the range of items at the store is always immense and “even if you don’t make a purchase, the experience of being here is just like touring a fine art gallery. You feel uplifted by the mood and ambiance of the setting.”

That positive and supportive vibe runs through Camphill, at the day program workshops, in the café and at the Village near Angus where individuals live in a rural setting, helping on the farm and participating in equestrian programs.

It’s a socially progressive, not-for-profit that provides support and services to adults of all abilities in Simcoe County. It’s known for its unique artistic and creative approaches that enhance and enrich lives.

“Working here is absolutely mind-blowing,” says Kathy Downes, executive director of the Foundation. “It’s the people … they are able, not disabled and with support they are able to learn and contribute to their community. They become artists in their own right and they are recognized for their talents.

“We support people in directing their own lives and in promoting partnerships, opportunities, well-being, freedom and contributions in their community.”

Most mornings in Barrie are busy and workshops are bustling places where companions work on projects and spend time socializing with friends.

The Biodynamic Farm in Essa Township provides opportunities for work experiences growing vegetables and preparing them for market, making maple syrup, chopping wood, caring for animals, growing herbs and making herbal teas and other products.

Residents harvest the gardens and sell produce at farmers’ markets in Barrie and Angus. Many also participate in supported employment, volunteer opportunities and recreational programs.

Programs in both locations support companions in all aspects of life, improving their social lives and creating opportunities to interact with peers and the wider community with confidence.

There are choices around housing, including opportunities for living with a group of three or four friends, and more independent living. Those who can and want to live more independently can live in apartments connected to one of the larger houses where support and connection are available 24/7.

“Camphill’s mission is to enrich society by creating meaningful opportunities to live, learn, and work together,” said Kathy. “It’s an incredible place.”



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