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Research on Reseachers – Sheenagh Morrison interviews John Lord

October 31, 2012

1) John, you are coming to Vancouver to present a workshop on November 5th called Facilitating an Everyday Life. Can you tell us a little bit about what you teach at this workshop?

This workshop will focus on ways that we can build everyday lives in the community. This means that people have to be supported to dream, to consider genuine options that make sense for them, and to create authentic relationships. For many people, this cannot happen without facilitation support. A facilitator is someone who walks with you, listens deeply to what you really want, and then assists you in making connections in community, so that you can participate and contribute to everyday life. We will explore these ideas in the workshop with short presentations and lots of time  for conversation.

2) You are a leader in research and education that helps vulnerable people to become fully participating and equal citizens. In your books and in your teaching, you often talk about the New Story. What is the New Story for people with intellectual disabilities?

The New Story is a shift toward self-determination and community. In the New Story, we  honour people’s choices and support them to pursue those with intention in he community. We also know for the New Story to become a reality, we need to change the way we provide support to people. There are some key functions of the New Story and they include:   strong People First groups and Family Networks, facilitation support that assists people in building everyday lives, individualized funding so that people can hire their own workers, and supports that are always person-centred and appropriate for the person.3) Can you tell us about your new book Friends and Inclusion: Five Approaches to Building Relationships?

3) Can you tell us about your new book Friends and Inclusion: Five Approaches to Building Relationships?

Friends and Inclusion outlines five approaches to developing friendships with people who do not have disabilities. It is based on our research, but also includes my daughter’s experience with relationships. We have used all five approaches with her and as a result, Karen has a rich life with lots of relationships. We believe that relationships must be a priority f we are to be able to experience an inclusive life in community. his book has photos and quotes from Karen as well as specific things people can do to build relationships.

4) Is there a role for people with intellectual disabilities in research related to them?

Absolutely. We need to engage people with disabilities in research that is about them. I have done this for years as a community researcher. People with intellectual disabilities can be part of steering committees that are guiding a research project. They can also be researchers, conducting interviews. We have also supported people to present research findings. It is very powerful when people are directing and shaping the research that is about them.

5) Can you tell a brief story about someone you know who has a disability and what you think they bring to their community?

My daughter has Down syndrome and she brings so much to community. Her energy and way of being in the world slows people down and they become more attuned in her presence. She lives an inclusive life, is a trained yoga teacher, plays in a band, and works in a coffee shop. So her valued participation reminds us that there is a role for everyone in community. The barriers to participation are not within Karen and other people with disabilities – the barriers are within us, people who do not see potential and who do not value diversity. When we fully value diversity and strengths, we see gifts and possibilities in everyone.

6) Is there anything else you would like to say?

Building social inclusion and the New Story has been a very long and difficult road in Canada. We still have too many lonely and poor people with disabilities. There is still far too much segregation and too many people unemployed.  Despite the barriers, there has been progress and I am encouraged by young families and people with disabilities themselves who are demanding that their voices be heard. We now have a United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities that give us a New Story framework internationally that can support our provincial and local work.

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