The importance of Independent Facilitation can be best illustrated through telling our story. Steph is my 29 year old daughter, who has special needs. For the past 3 years, she has been working with an Independent Facilitator through Bridges to Belonging. It is hard to put into words the very meaningful impact that Steph’s facilitator has had on her, on our family and on our community. There is no doubt in my mind that without continued Independent Facilitation, Steph, our family and the community will lose out immeasurably.
Over the years, I have worked hard at helping Steph transition from school to the community. I have done my best to provide opportunities for Steph to have a purposeful, happy life. Our Independent Facilitator has also been instrumental in helping Steph work towards this goal. With the help of our Independent Facilitator, Steph is surrounded by a caring and supportive network of people who have her best interests at heart. It is our Independent Facilitator, who keeps this support team connected with Steph. Consequently, Steph is blessed with many wonderful friends who have a special relationship with her. These relationships are very important to Steph and are invaluable to her overall well being. It is the Independent Facilitator, who is walking with Steph as she moves towards more independence. It is the Independent Facilitator, who has got to know Steph and her gifts, and has helped her get paid part time work. It is the Independent Facilitator, who has helped Steph spread her wings and move into her own apartment with a roommate and with supports in place. I could go on and on; however, it is not just “what” the Independent Facilitator has helped Steph with (ie establishing a network of support, helping her find employment, helping her move out on her own. It goes far beyond that. It is the work of our Independent Facilitator, who is helping Steph to believe in herself and to become a capable and resilient young woman and citizen in our community..
As I mentioned earlier, over the years I have done my best to be there for Steph, to care for her physical, emotional, social and special needs in order that she can reach her potential. It is challenging “navigating the waters” and I must admit that I have “run out of steam” from time to time. It is our Independent Facilitator, who has partnered with me to support and encourage Steph on her journey. She helped me to see the possibilities and to really listen to Steph. She taught me that it was about “what Steph wanted” and not “what I thought was best for Steph.” Knowing that I am not alone in helping Steph grow capacity is such a relief and a comfort. The Independent Facilitator has definitely decreased my stress level, allowed me to catch my breath from time to time and encouraged me to not give up on helping Steph have a good life.
Our community has also benefited from our Independent Facilitator working with Steph. Our community is richer because of the active participation of Steph as a volunteer. By identifying Steph’s passions and gifts, and by having a wealth of connections and resources, our Independent Facilitator has helped Steph get involved in the community in a way that she is using her talents. It is a win-win. Steph feels good about giving back to the community and the community benefits from her volunteering.
As you can see, our Independent Facilitator is making a huge difference in the life of Steph, my well being as her caregiver and in the community. She is a lifeline for us. We would not be where we are today, if it were not for the Independent Facilitator. However, what really concerns me is that Steph has not “arrived” yet. She is not where she used to be and she is not where she wants to be. She is on her way. There is still work to be done. The ups and downs are ongoing and we will continue to need the services of our Independent Facilitator after March 31, 2019.
Our hope is that the provincial government will hear our voice, listen and act responsibly on behalf of all families with family members with disabilities. Why change something that is working well and cost effective? Everyone, no matter what their differences are, deserve to belong, to be valued and to have a purposeful, happy life. Without continued funding from the provincial government for Independent Facilitation, this is not going to happen.