McKenzie's Journey & the beauty of Independent Facilitation. “Facile”….a word that has many definitions, but the most fitting one in this case is “acting, working, proceeding”. We were very fortunate to purchase services with Facile to do independent facilitation / future planning for our son McKenzie and it was the best thing we ever did. As a parent of a child with special needs, navigating the system can be daunting, complicated and exhausting, let alone the looming future of uncertainty that lied before us as our child finished his highschool career and entered the land of unknown. Thankfully our facilitator, Mirjam, provided us the most important thing…”hope”. After the first meeting, I felt, “We can do this. There will be something for McKenzie. There is hope afterall.”
Our experience with facilitation has been a fantastic journey. Things have not always been smooth. There have been obstacles, challenges and times when I thought I wasn’t sure about things, but here we are today with McKenzie living the future that was at one time only a dream. Mirjam said “reach for the stars. Anything is possible” and with that we moved forward.
Through the months of meetings and planning, we have been able to carve out plans for McKenzie’s future ensuring he has quality filled meaningful days that meets his needs and interests, as he entered the true world of ‘adulthood’. Our journey started while McKenzie was still in highschool so we did have time to plan before he graduated which was wonderful. As parents and with Mirjam’s guidance, we brainstormed what we envisioned his more immediate future to be but also looked further down the road as to the wish list, always keeping McKenzie’s best interests, likes, dislikes and needs in the forefront. Mirjam was able to connect us with various other services in our neighbouring community of Stratford and our home community of Mitchell which helped McKenzie to land his first and current job at the Ritz Villa where he breaks down boxes every Thursday. This job is not just money so he can purchase his favorite, fries. This job is a place he goes weekly; his commitment where he is greeted by co-workers each time by name and with a smile and asked how he is and how things are going; where he jokes with co-workers as well as enjoys being a part of a team and where is he is like everyone else who has a job and contributes to his own income and society. He has just celebrated his second anniversary this past July of being employed there.
A couple of years ago, a circle meeting was held with Mirjam as facilitator which included family friends, support workers and past EAs from school. At this meeting, great ideas came forth as to McKenzie’s future based on what others saw as McKenzie’s likes, strengths and abilities. As a parent this was a very humbling experience as I was able to see through other people’s eyes and experiences, what gifts McKenzie had that I didn’t fully realize. That in itself gave me even more hope as I learned he had even more to give than I was aware of, but more importantly, how much he impacted the lives of those around him and how much he is cared for and loved. If it wasn’t for facilitation, this would not have happened.
From that meeting was born more ideas and potential opportunities for McKenzie and paths for us to explore. Mirjam continued on this journey with us and continued to search, encourage and support us. As a result, McKenzie entered the world of volunteerism. To me, this is almost if not more important than the paid job. Sure it is great to work and earn money, but to give of yourself and expect nothing in return shows great character. However, what happened as a result is that McKenzie got and is getting back way more than he gives. He has gained experience in his jobs which may lead him to paid positions; he is showing others that he can be of service and contributing without getting anything in return; he is making new friends and socializing; he is getting out of the house and keeping busy and his is happy because he gets to do these things. McKenzie has been blessed to have a few volunteer positions experiences to date and who knows what lies ahead.
Facilitation has also led us down other paths. McKenzie has re-entered the pool and has been re-engaged in his love of swimming which he does weekly before heading to work. He goes bowling in the fall and winter months with Special Olympics and plays on two different T-ball teams in the summer. We are currently exploring attending to the local gym to do some exercising. McKenzie has become more involved with Community Living Stratford where he has support workers weekly who provide in-home support and also attends a day program one day a week. He is surrounded by friends, engaged and trying new things.
As parents, when McKenzie graduated from school, we didn’t want him to graduate to the couch or in front of the TV, but for him to be involved in his community, get out and about, make friends and have a meaningful life… a bright future. I am so pleased to say we got way more than we hoped for. McKenzie is rarely home during the week as he is busy going out and about, working, attending programs, visiting the mall, visiting his new friends, volunteering, swimming, bowling, keeping active…He is living a good life! He has meaningful days….and all thanks to facilitation.
Our journey is by no means over and there is still much work ahead, but we are definitely on the right path in carving out a fabulous bright future for McKenzie. Our facilitator Mirjam has and continues to provide us with support, encouragement and guidance as well as knowledge and resources. If we had to endure this journey on our own, it would have been one filled with floundering frustration, road blocks and grief where we may have thrown in the towel in despair. We truly appreciate the giftedness of the Facile team and how they have truly made a positive and hopeful difference in our lives, but especially McKenzie’s. Your journey should never be alone and thanks to Independent Facilitation (Facile), it isn’t.