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.

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


6 July 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.



Revel in the Light: The Story of Rebecca Beayni
A Quiet Life Will Shine..are the words that open this inspiring biographical portrait of Rebecca Beayni, a young woman whose incredible spirit bursts in and through the seams of a physical disability she was born into. Masterworks Productions  is pleased to present this story of Rebecca, a woman whose openness to life touches and stirs those in the world around her. A testament to love and family, and the amazing mystery of hope, this film is the realization of a dream of Rebecca's, her family and that of The Ubuntu Initiative, which consists of individuals who have a developmental disability and their families and friends. We come together to imagine and to create, with these individuals, a different more hopeful future, rooted in gentleness, interdependence and deep friendship. Ubuntu is a South African Zulu word meaning: “My humanity is inextricably bound up in your humanity.” Click for order form
At the conference, we were fortunate to have an advance view of this remarkable video. Its official premiere will be on
Thursday September 22, 2005, in North York. Click for more information about premiere
For more about Rebecca's remarkable effect on others, read Rebecca is going to the United Nations
Helen Henderson highlighted Rebecca's story around her video in her column in the Life Section of the Toronto Star on Saturday July 2.

Spark of Brilliance was introduced and illustrated for us by Judith Rosenberg as a form of creative support for mental health. With the Mental Health & Wellness Network and James Gordon, Spark of Brilliance staged performances in Guelph in the last week of June.
Two Steps and a Glass of Water
is described as this enriching and empowering production created by a unique community of people who are experiencing mental health issues, or are supporting others on their journey… of healing and recovery through the arts. Donations to help with this production and other initiatives by Spark of Brilliance may be made payable to Spark of Brilliance, and sent to Orchard Park, Attention:  Judith Rosenberg, 5420 Highway 6, North, RR5, Guelph, ON, N1H 62J 

CommonVision for Real Transformation
John Lord tells us of a  combined initiative by four provincial organizations that represent families and people with disabilities--Family Alliance Ontario, Individualized Funding Coaltion for Ontario, People First of Ontario, and Special Services at Home Provincial Coalition. The first of  two 8-page booklets has been printed and the second will appear in July. They outline the main features of the shared vision and the "new story" that John presented in the Guelph Spring Conference.
Look out for these booklets. Organizations may order them at $25 for 50 from the IFCO

Transition Resources

For our April conference, Nancy Cherry compiled a guide to Transition Resources
(from school to adult years)
. Comments and suggestions  are welcomed.


Displays and Poster Presentations about Creative Supports

The following groups displayed information at the conference.
We'll post more detailed information in a forthcoming bulletin.

Deep Listening and Support Circles

Inclusion Press, Inclusion Network, Marsha Forest Centre) - MAPS, PATH, CIRCLES
Planned Lifetime Networks (Waterloo-Wellington-Oxford, Monika Landoni)
Safe & Secure Futures (Extend-A-Family, Toronto, Christy Barber)
Mental Health: Self Help AllianceGuelph
Speaking Differently
Support Clusters Network—Canadian Mental Health Association
ASPIRE: Autism Support Project: Information, Resources, Empowerment, with PATH
Dave’s Success Story, realizing dream of home ownership and micro-enterprise
Rebecca’s Dream: new video/DVD Revel in the Light
Ubuntu Initiative (Peter Dill)
Homes Not Just Housing
Aspergers Society: Housing Committee (Sim Wong)
Homes for Life, Peterborough (Marilyn Atkins)
Guelph Services for the Autistic (housing trust)
Saddy Homes, London (Kathy Peters)
Independence Technologies by Hamilton Health Sciences (Elizabeth Steggles)
From Madhouse to Our House (new DVD by Centre for Research and Education in Human Services)
Housing Options, Community Living St Marys and Area (Barbara Leavitt)
Meaningful Work and Recreation
Options Mississauga (Thelma Wheatley)
Spark of Brilliance, Guelph (Judith Rosenberg)
Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario: Job-Fit
Ju-Lis Delights, Guelph (Elisabeth Niimi)
Brian’s fire wood micro-enterprise, Guelph
Community Music Therapy Services
Exercise Therapy: Mind, Body and Spirit in Balance (Minerva Gardiner)
Energy therapies including Reiki and Therapeutic Touch (Heidi Klaming
ACES Initiatives: towards a vision of intentional community, including horticultural therapy
Co-ordinating Sustainable Good Lives
Transition initiatives and resources, by Nancy Cherry of ASPIRE
Aroha entities of personal empowerment and support
Brockville & District Association for Community Involvement's Legacy Project
Family Networks of Family Alliance Ontario (Barbara Ostroff)
Special Needs Planning Group (Graeme Treeby)
Families for a Secure Future (Nancy & Marvin McDougall)
Individualized Funding Coalition of Ontario (Joyce Balaz)
St Francis Advocates: Stepping Stones (Sharon Sharp)
Windsor-Essex Brokerage for Personal Supports (Marlyn Shervill)
Windsor-Essex Family Network (Michelle Friesen)
Balancing Act: Personal Coaching & Workshops for Caregivers (Shirley Edwards)
Autism Society Ontario (Patricia Gallin)
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, July 6, 2005
, 7-10pm, in Guelph
An introduction to Gentle Teaching: Understanding the ‘language of pain’,
a workshop with Felicia Jervis. Click for introduction to Gentle Teaching

July 10-13, 2005

Toronto Summer Institute: Inclusion, Community and Diversity
The Assembly Hall - Humber College - Lakeshore Campus
“People working actively on the complex issues of inclusion and diversity in communities, workplaces and schools will want to attend this event. This Institute is for Thinkers and Doers. - for people who know there are no easy answers and who are seeking new ways of thinking and acting. This will be a unique adventure in building a learning community together. The faculty see themselves as a jazz combo who have a definite theme and a flair for improvisation - harmonizing with the participants.”
Jack Pearpoint & Cathy Hollands
Inclusion Press International & The Marsha Forest Centre: Inclusion•Family•Community
Tel: 416-658-5363 Fax: 416-658-5067

July 18-22, 2005, in Hamilton

Accessibly Yours
Enhancing Environments for Wellness and Occupation
Summer Institute
McMaster University - School of Rehabilitation Science
Click for more
Includes on July 20, all-day workshop on
"Enabling Occupational Performance Through Home Renovation & Universal Design"
Click for extension of early registration discount to July 8.

July 20-21, 2005
, in Troy Michigan
Summer Institute!
Supporting resiliency and well-being throughout the lifespan
sponsored by:
Center for Self-Determination and Transition
College of Education, Wayne State University
Click for more details

July 21-23, 2005, at Niagara-On-The-Lake
Fourth Biennial Niagara Conference on Evidence Based Treatments for Childhood and Adolescent Health Problems
Presentations from 19 leading practitioners and researchers who have studied and developed treatments for anxiety disorders, depression and bipolar disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, substance abuse and bullying among other maladies. Visit conference website

July 26 and 28, in Pontiac, Michigan

Workshops in Supporting Communication

Facilitated Communication is one method used in accessing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) equipment.  This series of two workshops provides the opportunity to learn the techniques of facilitated communication within the context of the principles common to all communication support approaches.

1. Communication Partnerships: A Framework for Support

2. Introductory Skills Workshop: Learning to Be a Facilitator
Sponsored by the Autism Society of America, Oakland County Chapter, and held in the Marriott at Centrepoint.

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.

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.



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



Closing The Gap Forums is a discussion board exploring the many ways that technology is being used to enhance the lives of people with special needs. Please feel free to participate in the discussions listed below and share this valuable resource with friends and colleagues. There is no fee to participate. Visit: and check out the "Featured Discussions".

The Philia Dialogue on Caring Citizenship invites you to visit its newly designed website at The Philia Dialogue is an initiative of PLAN Institute, which brings the
wisdom of the disability community to Philia's quest for a more inclusive society. Share your ideas and stories at the website by clicking "Have Your Say" or send longer stories to

The Government of Canada has released three publications addressing issues related to people with disabilities: "Advancing the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities 2004"; "Canadian Attitudes Towards Disability Issues"; and "Frequently Asked Questions." View all three at .

ARCH: A Legal Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities
released five free fact sheets about abuse of people with disabilities and legal avenues to address such abuse. See

Motion Picture Card for persons with disabilities will get a necessary helper into movies free or cheaply. A physician or other recognized therapist must complete form that can permit a support person to attend motion pictures (movies) for either free, or a max. fee of $3, as the accompanying person for the disabled person (this works for adults as well as for children). Click for information and application form in English




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 send a message to for AROHA.

{return to the OAARSN Bulletin Board}