by Wendy Newbery and Doug Allgeier
We have learned that the Ontario Government is unlikely to fund the infrastructure to keep Independent Facilitation growing in the province. This is a huge and costly mistake for vulnerable youth and adults. Our daughter, Evie is one of the people who relies on her Independent Facilitators to build a life that works for her.
Evie is 26 years old and has always been our “square peg” because she has rarely fit into the round hole of school, group activities, community. She was never able to attend school full time, struggles with social gatherings of more than a few people, and needs careful planning to try new activities. While we dream of a community where she feels like she belongs, finding ways for her to engage has been stressful and at times traumatizing for her and for us.
Our Independent Facilitators brought hope, encouragement and change to our lives when Evie graduated from high school to community seven years ago. We work with two Independent Facilitators who have helped Evie to build and nurture a network of committed and supportive friends, plan for time with her precious boyfriend, find places she loves to go and things she loves to do in her community, and hire and train workers. They have supported and amplified her adult voice and facilitated the growth of her self advocacy skills.
In a broader sense, our Independent Facilitators have helped the community around Evie carve out spaces where her “square peg” fits, where she is valued and where she can build a safe and secure future.
When vulnerable people are supported in this way, they are less likely to lean heavily on the costly mental health and medical systems. In addition, senior parents like us also feel better supported in our care-giving and we are less likely to need additional costly supports. Ontario needs to make space for the practice of Independent Facilitation to grow and flourish – it makes good sense.