Monday, July 11, 2016

Making social media about social inclusion

By Debbie Hall, direct support professional

Which of these sites do you have an account for or have at least used recently? Now what about the individuals you support? 

My guess is, on average, that there is a difference. Why is that?

Whether you like it or not, social media is how we stay connected. We all use it on a daily basis in some shape or form. We keep updated on our friends and family by scrolling through pictures and status messages on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We “talk” to others via text on Google+, Messenger, or Yahoo. We discover new things we would like to try by searching Pinterest, YouTube or Vimeo. Communication, connection, and discovering new things that we like are how we stay and become included with others. We choose to use social media as one of the mediums to do this. So, why are we not utilizing this world with those we support?

But, what would this look like? Here are some ideas on what you can do to help those you support utilize social media platforms:

  • Help create a list of people that are important and help to keep in contact via email or messenger.
  • Help post pictures and status updates about what is going on in their lives to share while having important conversations about what might not be appropriate to let others know.
  • Make a list of hobbies and interests and help/show how to scroll through sites like YouTube and Pinterest to find ways to learn new skills or improve on them.
  • Most of all, be creative and individual! Don’t be afraid to use these tools!

“In Social Media the “squeaky wheel” gets the oil. You have to put yourself out there, to find people who will relate or even debate with you, depending on what you are looking for.” - Jessica Northey

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The importance of sharing ordinary places

By Marisa Geitner, president and C.E.O.

"Without intentional activity people with disabilities are more likely to belong to a smaller world, engage in a smaller world, and be in devalued roles, more likely to have fewer choices."- John O'Brien

Great things come when we share ordinary places.

As disability support services have evolved, models have been created in a manner that separates individuals from the general community, making it necessary for support providers to consistently be seeking ways that help one gain experience "in the community."  This has also created an unintended consequence of members of the general community assuming that since individuals have paid support, they themselves need not be concerned about how to welcome those with disabilities into their community circles. They might also assume that those with support needs require separation from community in order to be successful.

Having a home within a community or attending a program within a community has been a wonderful step toward full inclusion. Our next step is simply to share ordinary places. That may mean establishing some patterns that are frequent enough it might allow for new relationships to develop. Some may join others at the town diner for the Friday night fish fry or volunteer consistently for events offered through their church or local fire department. How about connecting with a local walking club and developing relationships as you enjoy exercise and fresh air?  Do you enjoy coffee while people watching every Monday at the local coffee shop?  Ever thought about ushering at a local theater? 

Seek experiences you'll enjoy. And remember, predictability and frequency increase the likelihood that new relationships will develop by sharing time in ordinary places. It is true and lasting relationships that combat isolation and exclusion.

Find some time to extend yourself to enjoy the community that you are a part of today.