The blog this week was written by Allison Hammond, Program Director at The Arcadia Institute. Each of us can do something big or small to help the Focus Person of the MAP create their dreams and make our community better.
Community Brokering is a process, really a journey, not a program. Through Community Brokering we help people with disabilities to identify their communities, discover their dreams, understand their life story and plan for a futures planning meeting. We have discussed a few of these steps in the past few Blogs.
During the futures planning meeting, there are two tools that we use: MAP (Making Action Plans) or PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope). Whatever tool is used there are always a Facilitator who guides the meeting and a Recorder who draws the MAP or PATH.
The following is what happens during a MAP Meeting:
Welcome and Introductions People say their names and why it is important for them to be at the meeting for the Focus Person.
The Dream for the Future A graphic depiction of the Focus Person’s dreams is drawn in the upper right corner of the MAP.
During this part of the MAP, the Facilitator guides the Focus Person to share what she wants for the future. This is not the time when the group starts to make a “laundry list” of things to do. Opportunity to list possible actions comes later. It is important during this time that the Facilitator keeps Focus Person’s dreams for the future the central topic. Too often, the person has experienced others telling them what they should do or want based on assumptions about the Focus Person’s capabilities and disabilities.
The Story The story is drawn in the upper left corner of the MAP.
The person is asked to tell 2 stories from the past that illustrate how the person has gotten to today. Then the Focus Person shares 1 story from the present that relates to the situation today.
Many times this part of the MAP process is eye-opening to the others present. People in the Focus Person’s life many know parts of the person’s story and situation, but when we let the Focus Person share the story, others see the whole person and learn about gifts or challenges they didn’t really know. There are often many “aha” moments during this part of the MAP.
The Worries The worries are drawn just under the Dream and take up very little space.
The Gifts Gifts are drawn and listed in the lower middle of the MAP.
This is the most fun, rewarding and empowering part of the MAP process.
During the time of listing gifts, the Focus Person is asked to listen as people who are very important to him name gifts and talents. This is where the MAP begins to lead toward possible actions in the community based on the Focus Person’s gifts, not on disabilities. Again, during this part of the MAP, people begin to learn more about the Focus Person from the others present. They may be surprised to know some of the things the Focus Person can do well. Often assumptions they held are disassembled.
Sharing the Gifts in the Community This part of the map is drawn just above the gifts.
Now, this is where the people from the Focus Person’s community can start to make suggestions for places, activities and people that would benefit from the Focus Person’s gifts. Usually there are typical suggestions about programs specifically for people with disabilities. This is where the Facilitator needs to guide the group to think more broadly. The Facilitator needs to remind the group that access to special programs is easy. Now, we are looking toward the whole community for opportunities for the person to reach for dreams and to make the community better.
Action Steps Action Steps are listed just about the Sharing the Gifts part of the MAP
Action Steps are created LAST. After the group has gotten to know the Focus Person’s dreams, story, gifts and opportunities. The steps may be very small and only need a phone call to be made to gather information. Sometimes the steps are bold and will take the person to a completely new place or activity. As actions are listed, a person who will take responsibility to make the action happen and a deadline are noted. People are often surprised by how much they can support the Focus Person. They don’t have to be a teacher, therapist, social worker, etc. They each can do something big or small to help the Focus Person create the life in the community of their dreams.