We learned, more deeply, what we already knew. Families are amazing! They are strong, resilient, innovative and are hungry for information that will make their child’s life as full, inclusive and meaningful as each of our own lives strive to be. By keeping our conversations on the 'Appreciative Inquiry' stream, whereby we focused on what had gone well that we could build upon, rather than things that were not, we were able to garner a glimpse of the amazing things that families have done to provide the best they can for the children they so dearly love, whether their child is a youth, or an adult.
We realized much of what the families most wanted to know more about were things that could best be answered by other families who had walked this path. To build upon the wonderful initiative started, it was decided the next step would be to gather some of those answers, and I had the great privilege of being chosen to move the project forward.
It was decided that the best way to do that would be to compile a book through interviewing families using the questions that had arisen in the Talks. I sent out a call to the families I knew that were involved with ‘In the Company of Friends’, Manitoba’s self-directed, independent living model for adults with developmental disabilities. Ten families came forward to share their stories, and ‘Family Matters’ was born.
So now the project is completed. ‘Family Matters’ has been published and shares these stories through the voices of the families that have lived the experience. These stories talk about inclusion, support networks, relationship development, the education system and of the many incredible steps that each family took to make sure that what their child needed to be a part of their community was put in place.
The book, ‘Family Matters’ is now available on Amazon, in both hard copy and on Kindle. At only 140 pages, it’s an easy, informative read where it can be picked up and explored one chapter/one unique story at a time.
It was the hope of every parent that participated and myself that in sharing our journeys, another parent raising a child with different, special needs, might feel a little less alone as they journey through life. Our hope was that something that we learned, some pearl of insight or achieved wisdom might take some of the bumps out of the road for another.
Parents are truly the greatest experts when it comes to what is needed and what is possible for their child. Parents also have to appreciate and then build upon the efforts and the work of the ones that came before, so that we can keep moving our world forward into one that is more inclusive, accepting and accessible for all persons, with and without disabilities. Family matters provides some of the history and structure that was laid as foundation of the work for the building that needs to continue. Maybe that work can be achieved a little more quickly and a little more easily, by sharing our lessons and learning, so that previously invented wheels might not have to be recreated.
Thanks to all that contributed. Thanks also for taking the time to read this. Please share this information as far and wide as you can, so that all parents who might benefit from the opportunity to access and read these stories, will know that they are there waiting for them!