Relationships develop that provide support and friendship
Lisa Bailey

Long involved in the community living movement, self-advocates Dave and Lorie strive to help people who have disabilities realize their full potential.

Along the way, they’ve developed meaningful and supportive relationships.

The husband and wife have served on posAbilities board of directors as well as with a number of other organizations in the movement. They’re currently both members of posAbilities Self Advocates for Equality (S.A.F.E.) Committee, an offshoot of the board that also reports to the board.

Amongst their goals are empowering people with disabilities and educating them, their families and the community at large to help create a fully inclusive community.

Education and awareness are key tools in self-advocacy. Dave notes he and Lorie have participated in events like employment forums to help foster the pursuit and attainment of gainful work.

In speaking with people who have a disability and their parents at these events, Lorie says she strives to answer their questions about such things as available services but also to listen because she identifies with their experiences and challenges.

She notes that people who have a disability “have a voice too,” and it’s been her experience that they share more easily with self-advocates like herself because she knows what they’re  going through.

More recently, Dave says he’s done some guest speaking with different organizations in the community living movement, including talking to one about having self-advocates be part of the decision-making and problem-solving processes.

He notes that self-advocates “can be just as strong a team member as anybody out there.”

“We just want to make a contribution to society and make it as it should be for everybody.”

As S.A.F.E. Committee members, Dave and Lorie meet with other self-advocates to share information.

They also attend events such as conferences as members of other organizations like People First.

This networking has created a circle of connections that provide invaluable support and friendship.

Lorie notes she and her husband have friends across Canada, and they connect regularly by phone, e-mail and even through the Facebook social networking website.

She says she’s always called self-advocates her “extended family.”

“These relationships do feel like family because I feel I can talk to them,” Lorie says.

She adds that the self-advocacy work has helped her to grow, particularly in her ability to express herself.

Lorie, for example, feels more at ease reporting to posAbilities board about the S.A.F.E. Committee. Last year, she spoke to 89 attendees at a People First conference – the largest group she’s ever addressed.

“I was always so tight-lipped. I wouldn’t speak up. (Now), I try to tell people, if you’ve got a voice, you’ve got to speak up because if you don’t speak up, nobody knows what you want, nobody knows what you’re asking for.”

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