Engaging and connecting people with disabilities in their communities

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
5 years ago
127 posts

I'm starting to work on a small project that focuses on helping people with disabilities get engaged and connected to their communities.

I'm finding it isn't that they don't want to be engaged, but what often happens is that well-meaning folks (like me???) direct and organize them toward one of two outcomes - either they begin to be merely present in the community ("community activities") without building any relationships OR they wind up connecting with each other and the result is a little social group of only people with disabilities who don't build relationships with anyone else.

I'd like to hear from other folks who are doing or have done similar efforts. What has been key for helping folks with this?


updated by @deb-wisniewski: 11/08/16 10:27:01AM
allehamm
@allehamm
5 years ago
2 posts

Hi Deb

Visit our website to see what we are doing in Kalamazoo MI - The Arcadia Institute

We recently had a forum that John McKnight was the guest presenter and facilitator. It was wonderful.

Allison Hammond

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
5 years ago
127 posts

thanks Allison -

I look forward to looking at this. I know that John is great - I've had the opportunity to work with him on a number of projects.

April Lee
@april-lee
5 years ago
1 posts

We have seen connections made and partnerships formed in our community through Person Centered Planning. Through a Navigator 360 Project we have identified isolated families with one or more children having developmental disabilities up to age 26. This family then agrees to participate in a process that involves a self-assessment, mapping their family/friend/community circle, a family or student PATH, and a community project. As a result we have witnessed community members connecting with families in new ways, parents taking steps to actively better their family according to their future plans, and those with disabilities are engaging in their community and sustaining relationships. This project is not yet perfected, but I am pleased with what we have seen so far. Meaningful relationships are key to bringing individuals with disabilities and their families out of isolation.

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
5 years ago
127 posts

Thanks so much for this information April.... Do you have written/internet materials that I could look at that provide more details on this project? This is exactly the kind of project I'm interested in hearing about as we move forward with the project I'm working on. I can share more about this project next week... I'm on vacation right now, checking email at the library, and my family is eager to get outside since it's a beautiful day ;-)

Tracy McLoughlan
@tracy-mcloughlan
5 years ago
2 posts

We are looking at a Community Cafe.

Tracy McLoughlan
@tracy-mcloughlan
5 years ago
2 posts

http://www.inclusion.com/inclusionpacks.html

You can order a book on MAPS and Paths here which is the Person Centred Planning previously mentioned.

Jill Gromen
@jill-gromen
4 years ago
3 posts

Hello,

I am new to this discussion group, and found this thread while getting acquainted with the site... We do some very similar work and have an upcoming project with teenagers with disabilities that are preparing to leave school and transition to adult life. We find that many are very disconnected from their communities... in fact, the only connection is school. I was struck by the community project element of your work. Would you be willing to share more information? Thanks!

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
4 years ago
127 posts

Hi Jill -

Thanks for your questions and comments. Since last spring, a lot has evolved in terms of the work I'm doing with people with disabilities and their community connections. I've been doing a lot of training for folks connected with part of our long-term care system in Wisconsin - it's a self-directed program called IRIS - and I've been meeting with people who receive supports through that system, family members and friends, and staff.

It's been an interesting six months working with them and we are starting to see some changes happening, but haven't yet collected enough stories to share yet. The focus of what we're doing is on how can people who have been seen as "needy" can instead become active, contributing members of their communities. It's a challenge since it changes how people think of themselves/the people they support.

I think a key factor in this transformation of a major part of the system is the buy-in & passion of the leadership within the system itself - at least up until this point. I think we need to continue to help the people who receive supports and their families/friends to learn about possibilities and to gather those "little" stories of success.

I'm not sure how things are going to continue to evolve. We'll see what happens... and I'll try to post additional updates as we move forward.

Jill Gromen
@jill-gromen
4 years ago
3 posts

Thanks Deb,

I'd love to hear more as your project evolves. What you are doing sounds very similar in both focus/purpose as well as struggles and challenges.

It might be interesting to share facilitation tools/ideas at some point.

Thanks!

Jill

Rituu B Nanda
@rituu-b-nanda
4 years ago
4 posts

Hi Deb,

We at the Constellation have applied strength-based approach to mobilise communities differently able. Would you like to learn more?

Warmly,

Rituu

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
4 years ago
127 posts

It would be great to hear more about what you are doing. Thanks Rituu.

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
4 years ago
127 posts

Sorry I haven't responded before now... just want to let you know that I'm working out the details of what we might be doing this year. Hope to be able to provide more info as things evolve...

Rituu B Nanda
@rituu-b-nanda
4 years ago
4 posts

Hi Deb,

We have applied strength-based approach with differently abled on issues of HIV in partnership with Handicap International.

In India we applied strength-based approach with parents of differently abled children as it was parents who found it difficult to cope with the situation.

Deb, I am keen to learn more about your work. Thanks.

Tina Dam
@tina-dam
4 years ago
2 posts

Deb,

I work for anorganizationcalled PLAN, i feel for the "trap" you have gottenyourselfinto.

At PLAN we take the building a network around someone on one person at a time. It takes time... but it gets results. I would also highlyrecommendJohn Lord's book "Facilitatingfor an Everyday life".

Tina

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
4 years ago
127 posts

I'm not sure what you mean by a "trap", Tina. And by "building a network", are you referring to meaningful, mutually-beneficial relationships? Are you finding ways to help people with disabilities contribute in meaningful ways to their communities? I'd be interested in hearing more details.

I would also like to check out PLAN - do you have a website?

Thanks!

Tina Dam
@tina-dam
4 years ago
2 posts

www.plan.ca

Absolutely a mutuallybeneficialrelationship. A networkmemberalways starts as a friend (ok maybe a sister, brother or Parent)

We are not finding ways for people with adisability tocontributein a meaningful way but recognizing how they already contribute. We at PLAN feel we (peopleingeneral) often get caught up in the DOING and perhaps we need toconcentrateon the BEING... we arehuman-beings.

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
4 years ago
127 posts

I think we're talking about the same thing, using different words, Tina. When I talk about ABCD & the gifts of individuals, I often talk about the 4H's - gifts of the head, heart, hands and human connections. People with gifts of human connections can be thought of two ways - those people who are the connectors (like my mom) - if they don't already know everyone, they can connect in a flash and find someone you are related to or need to know.

but the other kind of gifts of human connections are those people that it's just good to be with (the BEING you mentioned) - those people in whose presence I can just stop all the doing.

BTW, just took a look at PLAN website and realized that Al Etmanski is the president of the organization - definitely we are in sync. I've been aware of Al's work for a while. I'm not sure he knows me, but you can tell him that I'm Jody's sister-in-law... I'm pretty confident that he knows Jody...

thanks for participating in this discussion... it's always nice to find folks who share a similar wavelength....

Eric E. Jacobson
@eric-e-jacobson
4 years ago
3 posts

Deb,

In Georgia we have an initiative we call Real Communities. We have been working on this for four years now and are currently supporting 4 projects in Georgia based on ABCD with the idea of bring people with and without disabilities together to create communities that are more welcoming to all people. You can visit our website andsee our videoWe are currently in the process of deciding how we will expand by 4 or 5 communities in the next year.

In addition, we are working with other DD Councils interested in this. There are about three or four who are either already doing something or on the verge. Let me know if you want to discuss this more.

Eric Jacobson

Executive Director

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

HELENE SCHIFF
@helene-schiff
4 years ago
1 posts

I am a peer recovery advocate in a behavior health program in a suburban NYS.In carving out a relevant role for myself in this position.... identifying community resources, is what resonates with me most......social, volunteering, spiritual, civic, events,activities etc.

I am not sure how to kick this off, for it to becomewhat I hope..........do reply, pls

Jill Gromen
@jill-gromen
4 years ago
3 posts

Eric,I am very interested in learning more about your Real Communities initiative. I'm involved with a small group in Philadelphia that is trying to do something similar. Our inspiration came from an art event in Savannah Georgia... would love to hear more about what you are doing!

Jill

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
4 years ago
127 posts

Hi Eric - I'm very aware of the work that the Council in Georgia is doing... It sounds fabulous. I believe that some of my ABCD friends and colleagues are involved with your work - Mike Green? Bruce? Maybe April has had some connection?

To everyone - It seems like there are quite a number of people interested in engaging and connecting people with disabilities in their communities - shall we consider starting a group here on ABCD in Action that would focus on this? I'm happy to start a group if there are other people interested in joining me. Then we could more easily have several threads of discussion going at once... what do you all think?

Deb

Eric E. Jacobson
@eric-e-jacobson
4 years ago
3 posts

Jill - if you were in Savannah for Beth Mount's event then we met. You can go to our website and look under Real Communitiesand see a lot more. We can also talk if that would help.

Eric E. Jacobson
@eric-e-jacobson
4 years ago
3 posts

I think starting a group would be great. I am also currently working with a number of DD Councils around these issues as well and they might be willing to join in the conversation.

Eric

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
4 years ago
127 posts

So here's a simple yet complicated question for the folks on this discussion thread.... I'm going to start a group for people who want to talk about what we've been discussing here - thinking about how to help create inclusive communities where people with disabilities not only are welcome and appreciated, but where they will want to get connected, contribute, build community themselves, etc.

My question is this: What should we call this group?

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
2 years ago
127 posts

I'd love to know what you're doing to help your son build relationships. Would you be willing to share an example or two of what you've tried... and what's worked well and what hasn't?

Tamigalili
@tamigalili
11 months ago
1 posts

Hello, I just joined ABCD and I'm very interested in the group mentioned. Can someone please point me in that direction?

Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
11 months ago
127 posts

Hi Tami -

We don't have a specific group at this point. Instead we have this discussion category: ABCD and Inclusive Communities/People with Disabilities instead. We felt that this would make the topic open to a broader group of people who might not want to "join another group". Please feel free to start or join a discussion in this category. You can start by introducing yourself in this thread and sharing why you are here.

Deb


updated by @deb-wisniewski: 11/08/16 09:14:31AM

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