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a great idea: a personalised newsletter just for someone you care about

October 31, 2009
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newsletter-samplesPart of the fun of having a book called “101 ways to make friends” is that people are always trying to come up with the 102nd, 103rd, 104th idea…   it’s really exciting with self-advocates in workshops (we’ve gotten up to 118 !).   But the truth is it’s a world of infinite ideas and our point was just to share some of what we’d learned from folks we’d talked to about relationships because sometimes each and every one of us has a failure of imagination or gets stuck.   It’s been interesting to hear how audiences we hadn’t intended have used our book – immigrants, students away from home for the first time, kids in school, teachers in classrooms.    Each month we hear great ideas that we hadn’t thought of. 

“I want to thank all of the folks responsible for making the 101 Friends Newsletter work.  Three weeks ago I fired off a copy of it to Cheryl’s home (a group home she shares with 4 other folks) and Krysten, the head Co-ordinator there said that the response from everyone was very positive,” writes Edward Fontaine.

Edward is one of our long-time friends whose dedication to this field and all the nuances of authentic, heart-felt supports to folks with disabilities has been evident over a long career; as with many of us in this field, he has a family member with a disability, his sister Cheryl, living in a group home in Ontario.   Edward for some time has lived in British Columbia and was inspired to create his own personalised newsletter for Cheryl: “I enjoyed the 101 Friends newsletter so much, I came to the conclusion that I could make it a point of staying in touch with Cheryl on a much more frequent basis, and do so in fun ways.  The newsletter I made and sent this evening is a first step.”

Edward’s newsletter is in Word format and is a combination of journal, update and travelogue, telling Cheryl and those around her about his life and events around the city that he’s been involved in.   One of the things I like about it (aside from the fact that he’s an excellent writer) is that as well as including lots of photos, there are links embedded in the newsletter so that Cheryl and those who support her can read a story about what he did, see a photo of him there, and then click on a link that leads to more information about various things – Granville Island, the Fraser River, the Writer’s Festival.  

It’s also really clear throughout that the newsletter is for Cheryl – others might share it if she wants to do that, but it’s personalized and designed for interaction, “…here it is Sis, the first of many newsletters from your brother in Vancouver, British Columbia.  I have intentionally gone with lots of pictures and will keep the writing to a minimum; my hope is to give you snapshots of life out here from the view of my eyes.  Later, if you have particular interests, or something catches your fancy, I will gladly go into greater detail.”   If Cheryl expresses an interest through gesture, her supports will help her ask for more pictures of something.   Edward is now on his second issue and the response has been great, from Cheryl and the folks in her home. 

Great idea, Edward!   thanks for sharing it.

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