An electronic bulletin for adults who are vulnerable because of disability
and for their families, friends and supporters who care about them

This new bulletin is one outcome of the Guelph Spring Conference on Creative Supports held 29 April 2005, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. It is for everyone who is vulnerable because of any kind of disability, and for their families, friends and supporters. We can share dilemmas and difficulties as well as bright ideas and successes. There are announcements of events and special projects, discussions of issues and concerns, and links to useful books, websites and other resources. Our focus is mainly on Ontario, but we have wider contacts as well.

In organizing the Guelph Spring conference, we were moved by a desire to be positive and resourceful amid challenges--by the idea expressed in a Chinese proverb:  It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

The bulletin is being sent first to email addresses on our Aroha Listserv. Why Aroha? Practically, it's good for a Listserv or website to have a short, distinctive codeword unlikely to be confused with any other purpose. More importantly, Aroha, a Polynesian Maori word from Aotearoa/New Zealand, means the various qualities and values that are needed in a caring circle of friends. It can mean affection, respect, love, charity, compassion, empathy, concern, trust, pity, understanding and true friendship—all in active ways, not just ideas or feelings. 

You are receiving this bulletin because you attended the Guelph conference in April 2005 or expressed interest in resources coming out of that conference. Or you may have been a member of our PLN Listserv, for people concerned with Personal Support Networks. Or someone on the List has suggested that you could be interested. We hope you will continue on the Aroha Listserv, recommend it to others, and contribute news and ideas that we may share. Please click for a technical note on how to maintain your membership of the Aroha Listserv and how to unsubscribe if you wish.

This bulletin is best read in Mozilla Firefox or Netscape. You may download Mozilla free from

Please send news, announcements and comments to We welcome news items, announcements of events, new information, discussion questions and comments, and accounts of experience.

The Aroha Listserv and Creative Supports Bulletin are linked to the OAARSN website (Ontario Adult Autism Research & Support Network) which is hosted at the University of Guelph. Click to reach OAARSN's main page 

Please note that we (or OAARSN or the University of Guelph) do not necessarily endorse announcements or opinions that may be posted in this bulletin.. We will make reasonable efforts to check sources.

Gerald & Elizabeth Bloomfield
Guelph, Ontario, Canada

1 August 2005

News from Guelph Spring Conference:
Creative Supports for Vulnerable Adults

The 2005 conference on this theme was organized by Guelph Services for the Autistic on April 29.

More than 180 people joined in a full and rich program that opened with a keynote address by John Lord on “Creative Supports that Work: Values, Principles and Processes.” 

Then there were four parallel workshops:
1. Judith Snow on citizenship and the value of support circles
2. Barbara Leavitt on how to make mere housing into real homes
3. Peggy Hutchison on creative approaches to work and recreation
4. Marlyn Shervill, Michelle Friesen and Alice Quinlan of Windsor-Essex on how to realize and sustain good lives.

Several creative strategies were illustrated in the early afternoon. Peter Dill introduced an advance viewing of the film Revel in the Light by and about Rebecca Beayni of Scarborough. Thelma Wheatley described how Mississauga parents organized the Options project of work and recreation from 1991. Judith Rosenberg explained the Spark of Brilliance initiative promoting healing through the arts, that she founded in Guelph in 1999, and showed its video. Shirley Edwards spoke of her unique service, Balancing Act, which is devoted to caring for the caregivers. Michelle Friesen shared some of the experience of the Windsor-Essex Family Network.

Throughout the day there were many displays by organizations from all over southern Ontario. John Lord gathered up the day’s ideas and strategies in a final plenary session, so that we could all “go home with awareness.”

We believe it is vital to build on what was learned at the Guelph conference. Many people, registering for the conference and thanking us afterwards, noted that the scope of the conference was exactly what they needed. There was a heavy demand for places at the conference:  if there had been space, we could have registered twice as many participants. Many of you were interested in more than one workshop topic, and wished there could have been time to take part in two or more instead of just one. We've heard from people all over Ontario who were unable to attend on April 29, but want to be kept informed of resources coming out of the conference.

So these are some plans to keep the discussion going:

1. We are now editing the audio and video recordings that were made of the conference sessions. We plan to produce and share:
-a summary videotape/DVD of the essence and highlights of the event

-edited text transcripts of the seven conference sessions
Thanks to Kerry's Place Autism Services and the Community Mental Health Clinic in
Guelph for grants to help us make these resources available at modest cost.
We’d like to know from you how interested you are in obtaining these resources. Please send an email message to to tell us you'd like more information about receiving these resources.  

2. We are trying to continue the dynamics and interaction of the conference in launching this electronic bulletin, Creative Supports for Vulnerable Adults, to be sent regularly to the AROHA Listserv. We will publicize creative initiatives of other groups, pose questions for discussion, and announce new books, reports, websites and events.

3. We also plan some smaller workshops on helpful strategies that may encourage people and families, especially in our region to explore the best ways of supporting good lives for their vulnerable adults. These are being held in Guelph, to start with. The first is on Gentle Teaching on July 6. In September, John Lord will lead a workshop on applying the principles of creative supports to planning person-directed lives with Individualized Funding. Other topics for the fall might include the vital importance of deep listening and communication partners; the Special Needs Planning Group on financial aspects of longterm planning; and substitute and supported decision-making and how to fit planning for adulthood with Ontario Government regulations.



Families Matter Co-operative Inc.
Families Matter Co-operative of Ottawa announces its incorporation and readiness to welcome new members.
Its first meeting will be on September 27.
Click for overview, key messages and membership application form etc
The Co-op's First Directors are:
Marge McCabe, President
Krysia Pazdzior, Vice-president
John Toft, Secretary
Anne Toft, Treasurer
Audrey Bufton, Director at large.

November 6-11, 2005, in Havana, Cuba
Healing and Recovery Through the Arts:
International Conference sponsored by Spark of Brilliance
and Homewood Health Centre in Guelph and Artevida, Cuba

Click for more:

Families for a Secure Future

invites applications for part-time Facilitator positions in Durham Region and Wellington County.
If you are interested, contact Judith McGill
See also full-day workshops in mid-October on creative housing options, under Announcements below.

Announcing ACES
Guelph Services for the Autistic and Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services are working towards our shared goals of good lives for our friends who are adults or older teens. During the past year, we have co-operated in encouraging ideas of an intentional community in our region. Last November, we held two workshop events, both facilitated professionally, to develop a vision, mission and sense of shared purpose. We decided not to rush out and buy a large property--even if we could afford to! Instead we are taking several small steps, to prove that we can work together constructively and that our young people can feel fulfilled and purposeful in various kinds of land-based activities. We are also developing a function as a centre of autism awareness, resources and expertise. See announcement sof forthcoming workshops on August 17 and September 14. We have adopted a name for our vision and current activities, and a logo.
Read more about ACES


Guelph Spring Conference, 2005
Creative Supports for Vulnerable Citizens
Displays and Poster Presentations 

We invited groups and organizations to display information and success stories about their creative initiatives, such as:

  • "deep listening" to vulnerable persons who do not speak
  • helping self-advocates to direct their own supports
  • creating and maintaining circles of friends to support good lives now and in the longer future
  • circles of support for vulnerable persons who have no family
  • creative options to have a home of one's own
  • independence technologies
  • recruiting volunteers to be informal friends
  • ways to screen, train and appreciate excellent volunteers
  • bridging gaps between adults with special needs and their neighbourhoods and communities
  • supporting adults who want to continue learning, formally and informally
  • enabling people to develop micro-enterprises
  • artistic self-expression as therapy
  • contributing to our communities
  • lifesharing communities in households or larger units
  • planning for good transitions—from school to adulthood, and for life after parents age and die
  • caring for the caregivers
  • how brokerage works
  • what aroha/microboards can do
Displays were grouped to match the four workshop themes.
* Click on this link for more detail printed in alphabetical order
† reported in workshop report

Planning with the Person and Support Circles
Inclusion Network—with MAPS, PATH, CIRCLES
*Consumer/Survivor Initiatives in Mental Health
*Planned Lifetime Networks (Waterloo-Wellington-Oxford)
*Safe & Secure Futures (Extend-A-Family, Toronto)
Speaking Differently
Support Clusters Network—Canadian Mental Health Association
*Ubuntu Initiative
Homes Not Just Housing
*Aspergers Society: Housing Committee
*Dave’s Success Story
Guelph Services for the Autistic (as housing trust)
*Homes for Life, Peterborough
†Housing Options, Community Living St Marys and Area
*Independence Technologies by Hamilton Health Sciences
Meaningful Work and Recreation
*Community Music Therapy Services (CMTS)
Energy therapies, e.g. Reiki and Therapeutic Touch
*Exercise Therapy: Mind, Body and Spirit in Balance
Job-Fit, an initiative of the Learning Disabilities Association
*Ju-Lis Delights, Guelph
*Options Mississauga
*Rebecca’s Dream: new video Revel in the Light
*Spark of Brilliance, Guelph
Co-ordinating Sustainable Good Lives
*Transition initiatives and resources
*Aroha entities of personal empowerment and support
*Autism Society Ontario 
*Balancing Act: Personal Coaching & Workshops for Caregivers
*Families for a Secure Future
*Family Networks of Family Alliance Ontario
*Individualized Funding Coalition of Ontario
*Special Needs Planning Group
St Francis Advocates: Stepping Stones
†Windsor-Essex Brokerage for Personal Supports
†Windsor-Essex Family Network
There were also book displays from Parentbooks and AACI



Please send submissions for this news bulletin in plain text format by email to with "announcement" at the beginning of the subject line.
Please provide details of the following as BRIEFLY as possible: 
 Name of Event
 Main Speakers and Topics of Event 
 Date of Event 
 City and Location of Event
 Contact information to learn more about event 
 Please Do Not Send Files Or Brochure Attachments, but URL links to more detailed information on other websites are welcome.

Wednesday, August 17 from 7pm, in Guelph
Workshop with Graeme Treeby of the Special Needs Planning Group
Key question: "How can families plan and act now so that the most resources possible are available to support the good life of our daughter/son after we can no longer do this personally?"
Likely to interest people in Guelph-Wellington, Waterloo Region and surrounding places. Offered free by Guelph Services for the Autistic, but space is limited. Please pre-register now, requesting an invitation and more information. Please send a message to Nancy Cherry <>
The "Special Needs" Planning Group is made up of parents of people with disabilities.
Our focus is to assist families in preparing financial and estate plans that will ensure that their sons or daughters with a disability will enjoy a decent quality of life now and in the future. Our plans make use of Henson Trusts, Wills, Funding Mechanisms like family estates and life insurance programs and Life Plans which are designed to provide for our children after we are gone without affecting entitlement to ODSP benefits.
The SNPG does not charge any fees for our services, which means that everyone can take advantage of our knowledge and expertise no matter what their financial situation.  For further information, please visit our web based resource materials at

Wednesday, September 14 from 7pm, in Guelph
Workshop with John Lord on Making Citizenship a Reality
The Role of Person-Directed Planning and Individualized Funding
In recent years, citizenship has become a goal for people with disabilities. To be a citizen means to experience self-determination and community. This workshop is designed for people who want to build a good life and community connections with a vulnerable person. With individualized funding growing in importance, the role of facilitation and the importance of building a support plan will also be explored.
Workshop leader is John Lord, who was the keynote speaker at the recent Guelph Conference on Creative Supports. This workshop will build on his speech at that event and give people ample opportunity to ask questions, and work with others on issues of common concern.
John Lord is a researcher, consultant, and parent from Kitchener-Waterloo. Some of John's recent publications on individualized funding can be viewed at
Likely to interest people in Guelph-Wellington, Waterloo Region and surrounding places. The workshop is offered free, but space is limited. Please pre-register now, requesting an invitation and more information. Please send a message to Nancy Cherry

Thursday September 22, 2005
, in North York

Official launch of Revel in the Light”
The story of Rebecca Beayni, produced by Masterworks Productions
Click for more information about premiere
Click for order form (either video or DVD)
For more about Rebecca's remarkable effect on others, read Rebecca is going to the United Nations Helen Henderson will be highlighting Rebecca's story around her video in her column in the Life Section of the Toronto Star on Saturday July 2.

September 27, 2005 at 7 00pm, in Ottawa
First general meeting of Families Matters Co-op in Board Room of Total Communication Environment (TCE), Unit #5, 203 Colonnade Road S.
Click for more details

October 15, in Pickering, all day
Families for a Secure Future and Durham Family Network offer
Creating a Home of One's Own
Morning of story telling, afternoon of small group discussions.
Click for more and how to register

October 16, in Hillsburgh, all day
Families for a Secure Future offers
Creating a Home of One's Own
Morning of story telling, afternoon of small group discussions.
Click for information and how to register

October 20-23, 2005, in Toronto
Come to Your Senses....
From Theory & Research To Practice: Sensory Therapy & Disabilities
An International Conference for professionals, parents, caregivers & consumers
Presented by Muki Baum Association.
Program includes 37 presenters from 8 countries and a special presentation by Dr Oliver Sacks.



Disability wait list vexes parents
For parents of young adults aging out of special education systems, that rite of passage can be terrifying. Without the structure and supervision that school provides, their sons and daughters can be left to their own devices. A story from Utah, where the Human Services Director is asking the Legislature for more flexibility to spread her $163 million disabled budget to more families, even if it means offering limited aid in the form of adult day care or job coaches.

Development and Testing of a Resource Kit for Parents of Young Adults Who Receive Individualized Funding for Support, 2004 - 2007

The goal of this project is to develop a Resource Kit that can be broadly circulated to families who receive individualized funding. It is expected to enhance the quality of life and community participation of young adults with disabilities. This five-year project will assist them in the management of the funding and their work as parents to find supports for their children and family. The Resource Kit will be developed with the 10 families who are involved in the Opening Doors project. Researchers will seek input from all families as to the content and format of such a kit. Another goal is to evaluate the Resource Kit as to its use, utility and impact. A prototype of the Research Kit will be given to all families to use during the Opening Doors project in years two to five. This study is funded by the Ministry of Community, Family and Children’s Services



From Rollercoaster to Recovery: A guide for families navigating the mental health system in Wellington-Dufferin Counties is published by the Family Mental Health Network (based in Guelph), with support from a variety of organizations and companies in our community. Thanks to Jessie Baynham fopr this description:
"The 160-page guidebook covers everything from crisis, diagnosis, hospitalization, medications, alternative treatments, empployment & education, housing, legal and financial issues, recovery etc.  Both factual and practical information and tips from families and individuals who have experienced the mental health system are presented in an easy-to-read format.  Artwork in the book was done by individuals involved with Spark of Brilliance."
The cost for the guidebook is $12 including shipping. Click for order form and contact details




We know that some adults and their families and caregivers are heroically using what resources they have to achieve some successes with their challenges. Some can report remarkable progress. We invite you to share your problems and your success stories, if you think others might help or benefit.

If you wish, we will not publish your name or email address. You may sena message to

{return to the OAARSN Bulletin Board}