We wanted to take a moment to entertain you with a short video that captures with some accuracy the spirit of the LiveWorkPlay staff team.
LiveWorkPlay doesn’t close for the holiday season. Our work is all about people’s daily lives. and sometimes it is during this final week of the calendar year that our members need us most. We are also busy making sure that guests for our annual New Year’s Eve Dinner and Dance will enjoy another quality evening of food and fun.
Beyond the 100 individuals with intellectual disabilities directly supported by LiveWorkPlay, we also have ongoing relationships with other individuals as well as organizations that count on us. And we in turn count on them! This includes our 150-strong volunteer team as well as about 80 community partners include employers, non-profit housing providers, sports leagues, other charitable organizations, funders, and donors. Through these linkages there are thousands of people with whom we have a connection.
One of the upsides of being a relatively small organization is that we can make quick adjustments in the constant pursuit of being the best we can be. And we have a forward-thinking board of directors that fulfills their monitoring responsibilities while at the same time supports a responsive workplace culture. We also have the trust of a membership base that has been a part of the many important developments of the past 18 years and helps reassure newcomers that the best is yet to come.
One of the downsides of being a smaller organization is that we lack the “thanking infrastructure” of many larger charitable organizations. We receive important help from dozens of people every day, and keeping track of them all and letting them know how much we appreciate them is an overwhelming challenge. While we often hear that these supporters are not concerned about being thanked, it’s important to all of us on the staff team that you now how much we really do value your contributions. We are committed to getting better at this!
Although the work continues during the holiday season, there are often opportunities for reflection at this time of year. In 2013 the thought that stands out is that we really “hit our stride” as a person-centred organization that truly believes in social inclusion and its benefits for all. As more and more of our members establish themselves as neighbours, co-workers, teammates, and classmates – and as they move beyond the basic opportunity to “participate” and take on valued roles that are appreciated and respect by others – we are starting to see how our work has an impact beyond the life-changing outcomes for those individuals.
We see also that our community is changing, and that as a staff team, we increasingly find ourselves as facilitators of change, and are less needed as the drivers of change. This is important, because it means our fundamental beliefs are proving correct: that when people with intellectual disabilities are included in the community, it is not only the quality of their lives that improve, those who include them (people and groups of people) also experience an improved quality of life – so much so, that they often become champions of social inclusion in their own right.
Expect us to talk more about this in 2014. At a time when we face a constant dialogue of resource scarcity, it is important that we – as citizens and as a society – have these important conversations about how we invest in people and organizations, and what is that we expect from those investments. In the developmental services sector we are approaching a $2 billion annual expenditure. We know that there are waiting lists and not enough to go around. But what we know less about is that much of that investment is directed to activities that either have no connection and/or provide no evidence of a connection to an outcome of social inclusion. The recent settlement of the class-action lawsuit for survivors of the Huronia institution (and apology on behalf of the Government of Ontario is a reminder of the dangers of segregating people from their communities.
Should we continue to invest in activities that keep people with intellectual disabilities apart from other citizens? The case in favour is usually a lack of belief in the possibilities – that people with intellectual disabilities simply can’t be successful in the community and/or that other citizens simply don’t have what it takes to be welcoming an inclusive. At LiveWorkPlay there is daily evidence that both of these assumptions are incorrect, so we have a responsibility to challenge that which separates, and to champion that which includes.
Please stay tuned to this LiveWorkPlay channel! Don’t forget to join us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, just some of the social media communities where these important discussions are taking place.
However you celebrate this holiday season, we hope that you are safe and happy, and that we will see more of you in 2014.