Eight Lessons from Our Community-Building Symposium

June 9, 2016

Last October, Center for Independent Futures hosted a symposium about building capacity through strengthening communities. This symposium gathered professionals, individuals, and family members to focus the discussion around community-based housing.

Since six months have passed, it’s time to review what we learned through the keynote speech from Al Condeluci, our panel of family members facilitated by Northwestern Professor Paul Arntson, and our collaborative breakout sessions. Here are the top eight most important take-aways attendees shared:

  1. We can build social capital by making connections and strengthening relationships. In turn, social capital leads to new opportunities in every area of life, such as housing, community engagement, and jobs.

  2. Gatekeepers are people who can open doors to new opportunities in the community for individuals with disabilities. We need to identify the gatekeepers and influencers in our communities to increase inclusiveness.

  3. The individual is not the problem; community attitudes about individuals are the problem. Rather than assessing, labeling, and trying to “fix” individuals, we need to work to create welcoming and accepting communities.

  4. You can shape your own community, and it can be as simple as telling your story. Dialogue is the first step toward change.

  5. We should focus on capabilities, not disabilities, and use strength-based language rather than deficit-based.

  6. Person-centered approaches should drive how individuals are engaged in their communities. Individuals deserve choice in their living situations, locations, and roommates.

  7. Families are incredibly important in this process. In addition to your own family, it’s important to start working with other families toward new solutions.

  8. Creating housing solutions is a difficult process that can’t be rushed. It requires an investment of time, talent, and resources. It’s complicated to tackle on your own: work together and find others who have succeeded.

To learn more about Center for Independent Futures’ approach to creating community-based housing alternatives and how we can work with your family, visit this link or call us at (847) 328-2044. Thank you to all who participated in the symposium for sharing their thoughts and ideas!

 

 

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