Other Publications

Belonging Matters Tip Sheets

The series of tip sheets below from Belonging Matters offer many ideas and suggestions for people who are thinking about how to build lasting friendships, how to create a meaningful, inclusive life after school, and how to experience belonging in their neighbourhoods and communities:

School Inclusion In Canada

By Judith McGill

Originally posted to the Families for a Secure Future website

For the past eighteen years in Ontario, Families for a Secure Future has been innovating with the role of Independent Facilitation in supporting adolescents who have a developmental disability to transition out of secondary school into a meaningful adult life.

“We are all ‘social beings’ who make meaning with and through others by telling stories about our lives. As children and adolescents, we are accustomed to others being the narrators of our story. Parents, teachers and siblings defining our potential, who we are and who we are to become, until at last, we reach adulthood and see the necessity of narrating and shaping our own story.

While there are many transitions that each of us go through and embrace throughout our lifetime, the passage from adolescence to adulthood is clearly one of the most necessary and difficult ones. For every person, it signals a shift in our relationship to others. We must consciously become aware of what it means to take responsibility for our lives and at the same time recognize what we rely on others for and how we want to contribute to the lives of others. Adolescents with developmental disabilities are no different, they yearn to find places in the world where they belong so that they can gladly make their contribution to others, build relationships and take up their adult lives. As an Independent Facilitation organization, Families for a Secure Future has had extensive expertise in supporting adults (18 years and older) with developmental disabilities and their families, to prepare for and manage change as they work their way through the numerous transitions that are part of a typical life.”

~ Excerpt from a contribution by Judith McGill to the book “Inklusion in Kanada – Perspektiven auf Kulturen, Strukturen und Praktiken (Arbeitstitel)” [Inclusion in Canada – Perspectives on Cultures, Structures and Practices], to be published by Martin-Luther-Universität, Halle-Wittenberg.

The book will be published in German and English, over the coming year.

Read the full Chapter here.

What’s Worth Working For?

Leadership For Better Quality Human Services

By John O’Brien

An exploration of the Five Valued Experiences (John O’Brien and Connie Lyle O’Brien 1989), and Five Service Accomplishments that service agencies, and people interested in creating meaningful support, can aspire to as they assist people in moving toward a desirable future as valued citizen and community member.

Families and Planning

by Susannah Joyce

A guide for family members, friends and trusted allies, who want to support the person they care about in planning for their life.

Planning Together For Self Advocates

by Susannah Joyce

A plain language guide for self-advocates who are thinking about planning for their life and support.

Planification pour auto revendicateurs

by: Susannah Joyce

We Have Human Rights

A human rights handbook for people with developmental disabilities from the Harvard Project on Disability

Finding A Way Toward Everyday Lives (1992)

by: John O’Brien and Herb Lovett

This publication thoughtfully describes the foundation of person-centered planning and its potential for creating a better future for people and for influencing change. It also addresses controversies and fears associated with this new approach.

Person Centered Planning and the Quest for System Change

by John O’Brien

O’Brien considers an array of person centered planning methods, and contexts in which these practices are used.


A Message From The Ontario Independent Facilitation Network – Fall 2019 Newsletter

Dear OIFN community,

We know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from us. We remain passionate about raising the voice of people with developmental disabilities and their families, loved ones and friends, in pursuit of an everyday ordinary life in community, where everyone’s contributions are needed, welcomed and valued.

Since our last newsletter, we have been hearing stories from people and families through a family-led initiative called the Independent Facilitation Matters Coalition, highlighting the difference and contribution Independent Facilitation has made in living the life of their choosing.

We have learned over time that adults with developmental disabilities, their families and loved ones know how powerful it is to build a meaningful life in their neighbourhoods and communities. People and families have shared stories about what it takes to stay together and build their resilience and courage. OIFN is committed to learning together with people and families and others who care about what true belonging is and what it takes to hold a vision of a more just and inclusive Ontario.  

We continue to hear from people and families who want something different – a full life in their neighbourhood or community. The Ontario Independent Facilitation Network (OIFN) distributes weekly social media posts to share stories, experiences and connections to ideas about what more is possible and to delight, inspire and start conversations that matter.

We invite you to continue to engage with us on social media and share our newsletter signup with your friends and family to help us grow, change, and promote ways for shifting our cultural understanding of how ordinary everyday lives can be made possible for all. 


Enhancing Belonging: A Guidebook for Individuals, Organizations, and Communities

Enhancing Belonging: A Guidebook for Individuals, Organizations and Communities
by The New Story Group of Waterloo Region

John Swinton writes, “To be included, you need to be present. To belong, you need to be missed.” While belonging must be felt to be experienced, there are indicators that can foster the realization of this deep human longing. A new resource, just released, goes beyond inclusion to offer very practical suggestions, themes and examples that provide a framework for the belonging experience.

Enhancing Belonging: A Guidebook for Individuals, Organizations, and Communities is the result of a project undertaken by the New Story Group of Waterloo Region in 2013. The group had been discussing inclusion but wanted to go deeper, to discover how and where belonging might occur for members of the community, especially those who are most susceptible to marginalization and exclusion. Led by four members, the Enhancing Belonging Team, the group wanted to provide a process and a resource to assist in creating the environment where belonging might more likely be achieved in community. Through engaging community, collaborating around emerging ideas and exploring stories, five indicators were identified that together provide the rich ground for the experience of belonging.

In the Enhancing Belonging guidebook these five interrelated themes are explored in depth to help the reader discover that a sense of belonging is more likely to be achieved when:

  • Community spaces are open, inviting and accessible.
  • People are welcomed and acknowledged
  • People can participate and contribute in ways that are personally meaningful.
  • There are opportunities to come together with others around common interests or goals.
  • Policies and practices work to create a culture that nurtures belonging.

Each of these themes are discussed, helpful strategies provided and examples given.

As well, there is a handy Belonging Strategy Checklist and additional resources listed at the back of the guide.

Enhancing Belonging is an important resource for individuals, groups, businesses and organizations who wish to intentionally pursue a community where All belong.


Click here to read Enhancing Belonging: A Guidebook for Individuals, Organizations and Communities


-Submitted by Roz Vincent-Haven


“What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone”

“What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone”

by Heather Plett

An attribute frequently associated with facilitation is “to make easy”, to help things be easier for someone. This can involve many ways of helping that are visible and concrete, while others  are subtler, such as the ability to “hold space” for another. In Heather Plett’s article she explores what this means through her experience of supporting her mother as she was dying. As Plett and her siblings were caring for their mom at home, they, in turn, were being “held” by a gifted palliative care nurse,  who provided  both practical and emotional support as, facilitator, coach, and guide… offering gentle, nonjudgmental help and guidance.”  Plett’s definition of “holding space” involves being:  “…willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on, without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.”

Plett notes that sometimes we find ourselves holding space for people while they hold space for others and that everyone needs this support at times: “ Even the strongest leaders, coaches, nurses, etc., need to know that there are some people with whom they can be vulnerable and weak without fear of being judged.”

She also offers 8 very useful tips to keep in mind as we grow in our ability to hold space for others, that involve shared power, trust, not overwhelming the person, and offering guidance with humility and thoughtfulness. Plett emphasizes that this role is not limited to professionals: “ It is something that ALL of us can do for each other – for our partners, children, friends, neighbours, and even strangers who strike up conversations as we’re riding the bus to work.”

Regardless of our role in facilitation, there is much to reflect on and learn from Plett’s article.

Click here to read “What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone”

– Submitted by Susannah Joyce, Realizations Training & Resources


How Can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service

How Can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service, edited by Ram Dass and Paul Gorman, New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 1985

“We can, of course, help through all we do. But at the deepest level we help through who we are!”

There are so many things to consider in trying to be present with people as they explore  dreams and options for the life they most want … voice, power, rights, community, deep listening, creativity, respect, gifts, stories, relationships…all of these and many more are part of the picture. And because we are offering help…as facilitators, families and friends… the nature of how we help is foundational to our desire to make a difference.

How Can I Help? offers wonderful stories from people in a variety of helping professions, including doctors, nurses, social workers, clergy, peace activists, third world development workers and many others,  sharing what they have  learned about  “helpful help”  in Chapters entitled Natural Compassion;  Who’s  Helping?; Suffering; The Listening Mind; The Helping Prison; The Way of Social Action; Burnout; and Reprise: Walking Each Other Home.

How Can I Help? is a timeless and essential resource that inspires us  to stay true to the deepest meaning of our work. The book is available for purchase online at both Amazon and Chapters/Indigo in paper or as an e-book, for under 15.00

– Submitted by Susannah Joyce, Director, Realizations Training & Resources

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