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Research on researchers: Sheenagh interviews Cheryl Fryfield

February 28, 2013

FavouritePictureOfCheryl1) Cheryl, in December I interviewed David Wetherow and he told me about his Star Raft system of building personal support networks. Can you tell me about your Star Raft Salon and how it got started?

It all started when I did a presentation at a Spectrum Society managers meeting last September. I brought my PATH poster and I talked about how I chose who to invite and how my PATH process worked. I shared some of my goals and how I was doing with them. David Wetherow was at the meeting on Skype and he was impressed with my PATH and with how well I did with my presentation, especially because it was my first time talking in front of a group. Aaron approached me afterwards and asked me if I wanted to set up a group of self advocates who wanted to work on their personal support networks. We have had one Star Raft Salon meeting so far, and we plan to have one each month for one year.

2) Why is it called a salon?

I don’t know. It just seemed like a fun name to me. We gathered together a group of smart self advocates with the shared interest of growing their networks who will get together regularly to talk to each other and support each other.

3) Who are the other leaders working with you?

David Wetherow, Shelley Nessman and Aaron Johannes.

4) What are your future plans for this project?

Our goal is for each person to achieve at least one goal. We didn’t want the participants to feel anxious, so we asked them to choose a goal that they knew they could do. If people achieve more goals, that’s great, but the main thing is to show that we can all grow our networks one goal at a time.

5) What kinds of participants did you look for, and what will the participants do?

We wanted self advocates who were interested in growing their personal support networks and who wanted to learn how to make more of their own decisions in their lives. We will meet once a month to connect and talk about how we are all doing. I will probably be calling people between meetings to check and see if they need anything. I don’t mind doing that on my own time. Also, by the end of the year, I hope that each person in the group will have completed their own PATH.

6) How does it feel for you to be one of the leaders of this new project?

Pretty cool! I feel more confident doing things like this – things I used to think I couldn’t do – and I feel like I will be a good role model for the others in the group. Right now, all of us who are leading the project are putting in an equal amount of work, but as time goes on, I think that I will be taking on more of the leadership responsibilities.

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

The project is for one year. My hope is that all the people in the group will continue to come to all the meetings. Also, I hope that the people in the group become friends and stay in touch once the project is finished. By keeping in touch after it is over, our networks will grow just from being part of this project!

8) Can you tell me about someone with a disability who has been important to you?

Wow, there are so many people I can think of. That is a tough question. There is one person I know who doesn’t speak, except for a few words. She is deaf and she has to write most things down. We meet at least once a month for coffee. I learned a few signs that she knows and otherwise I write some things down for her, and we manage to communicate quite well. She is an inspiration to me because she has had a hard life, but she doesn’t let that get her down. She goes out here and there on her own. She just keeps on going. It helps that she has a strong support network. Without a support network, it would be hard for her to speak up for herself and do the things she wants to do.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Roberta Bower permalink
    March 1, 2013 6:53 am

    Another great interview, Sheenagh! Thank you Cheryl for sharing these wonderful insights.

    • sheenagh permalink
      March 1, 2013 9:57 am

      thanks roberta 🙂

  2. cheryl fryfield. permalink
    March 1, 2013 10:58 am

    You are welcome Roberta.

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