The Arcadia Institute

Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community

Creating the MAP (Making Action Plans)

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.

Each name is recorded in the lower left corner of the MAP in a color of their choice

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.

While it is important to recognize challenges or worries that may arise for the Focus Person, the Facilitator needs to keep this part of the MAP real, but not dwell on challenges.

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.

The Agenda and Ground Rules

The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Insitute.

For the last few weeks, we have been discussing some different components of Community Brokering. One piece of Community Brokering that may at first may seem minor and insignificant, does in fact have a valuable role. I’m referring to the agenda and ground rules for a Future Planning Meeting.

There is much that is done upfront to prepare for a Future Planning meeting. It is at this meeting that we will create a MAP, Making Action Plan, detailing an individual’s path to a full life in the community. In preparation for the MAP, we spend time getting to know an individual, we learn about the people in their community circles, and we explore the individual’s dreams for the future. Another important step is to make sure that we set the tone and outline for the Future Planning meeting. At every meeting, or MAP gathering, we post the agenda and the ground rules so they are visible to everyone in the room, and we take time to read them out load. We believe this is an important part of the MAP process because it prepares everyone for the steps that we will go through in creating the MAP. Some times, people who are invited to attend a MAP, are not entirely sure they understand what is going to be accomplished at a MAP and they may not know what role they are going to play in the process. The agenda helps to shape the structure of the meeting, and lets everyone know that we have steps we will walk through together. Additionally, the ground rules help to establish the MAP gathering as a safe place where we will listen to the individual, respect each other’s ideas, and take our time to work through the parts that are challenging.

The items that are typically included in the agenda are a welcome and introductions, sharing the story, honoring the dream, acknowledging the worries, naming the individual’s gifts and strengths, identifying places in the community, listing action steps, and then sharing closing thoughts. Likewise, the ground rules state that we will listen to the individual, we will take time to think, we will give everyone an opportunity to contribute, we will respect each other’s ideas, and we will take it slow through any parts that are challenging. When we are preparing for the MAP gathering, we talk to the individual about the agenda and ground rules. We ask them if there are steps we should adjust or rules we should add. By creating the agenda and ground rules, we keep the focus on the individual. We give the individual a voice and ownership of their meeting. The agenda and ground rules are a small piece of the whole MAP process, but they have a powerful message.

Turning the Lights Back On

The blog this week was written by Deborah Warfield, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.

How can anyone expect to see clearly in a dark room until someone turns a light on? That is what we imagine it may feel like for a person who has struggled with disabilities over time. Often the formerly inflated balloons of hope need to be returned to our participants as we invite them to dream of where they may see themselves in the not so distant future. The dream development phase of community brokering guides individuals through pre-MAP conversations, with an intent to have them get in touch with a life without barriers or limitations. (Community Brokers are careful to keep ideas realistic without bursting any of their bubbles)

These series of spoken aspirations are also drawn in the form of colorful, picture symbols, which serve to help participants begin to visual a reality that matters to them. Dreams described also assist with the process of participants finding and expressing their voice. It is extremely important for participants to be able to have had ample time to think about their dream well ahead of the MAP session. Otherwise, when asked to describe components of their dream at the MAP session, in front of their community circle, they may feel like a deer caught in the headlights.

The beauty of taking time to visualize and having their dreams scribed pictorially whets their whistle towards clarifying their dream even deeper, along with their community circle members, on the actual day of the MAP session. It’s not unlikely for the dream to change a bit from their original thoughts when it comes to completing the actual MAP. If a participant chooses to change or adjust components of the dream during the MAP session, it is not only acceptable, it is more than welcomed.

Inevitably, at the end of each one of these dream-describing sessions our participant’s shoulders roll back a bit and they display an elevated aura of worth and renewed anticipation. Insights gained during this dreaming also help inform us in how to continue to best support them through these next steps.

Discovering Community

The blog this week was written by Allison Hammond, Program Director at The Arcadia Institute.

In the Community Broker Process, one of the most important steps is helping the person discover who is in their community outside of family and special services staff. Often people have not really been asked to name the people in their community. Listing family, close family friends and service/school staff comes easy, but who else does the person know that would be a valuable part of the Community Broker Process. Often during other encounters with the person we discover more connections. Maybe it is someone from a store the person goes to frequently, perhaps it’s a staff person from a place where the person volunteers, perhaps it is another church members.

The person and families often worry about “bothering” people and don’t think that people will come to a meeting. The Community Broker manages this by being responsible for sending out the invitations to the MAP or PATH meeting and coordinating RSVP’s. Most of the time even if people cannot attend because of a scheduling conflict, they respond positively to being invited. On occasions invitees even have provided written input about the person’s gifts and where they could be shared in the community. These comments are often valuable during the MAP or PATH meeting.

Receiving input from the person’s community beyond the usual family and special services staff is what often distinguishes Community Brokering from mental health person centered plans or school individual education plans. The persons community can help open doors and create paths to possibilities that have not been noticed before.

Below is a MAP of a persons Community.


Weekly Routines

The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.

In Community Brokering, one of the tools we use in getting to know an individual and in preparing for a Future Planning Meeting or MAP is to talk with an individual about their weekly routine. This is a simple and non-intimidating way for us to learn more about a person’s interests, priorities, and community connections. We actually make a calendar and ask them to help us fill it in with their regularly occurring activities. The obvious benefit of doing this together is that it enables us to see clearly what days of the week and times of the day the individual is available to look at new activities or employment in the community. The less obvious reason for doing this is because it gives us greater insight into the individual’s personality. We learn more about their likes and dislikes. After completing the weekly routine for one person, we learned that he spent a great deal of time in the community walking around downtown. But, each day in the later afternoon, he sought out a small park where he could find quiet and be away from people. Learning this about his routine, led us into a deeper discussion about his need to have balance in his life between being social and around friends, and with having a quiet place where he could retreat and enjoy some solitude. This insight into his personality has been helpful over time as we have supported him in finding housing and volunteer opportunities in the community.

Discussing a person’s routine is also helpful in learning more about who the people are in an individual’s community circle. Sometimes when we are talking with an individual about who they would like to invite to be a part of their MAP, or who do they know that might be a reference for them on an employment application, the person struggles to think of names. As we look at their weekly routine, we are able to see different places where they are spending time and this can help us form thoughtful suggestions about who to ask to be a reference or invite to a MAP. One young man was preparing to graduate from school, and we were focusing on his future schedule and how he would spend his time now that his days were going to be open. As I asked about his current schedule and work studies he enjoyed doing in the community as a student, he talked about a retirement community where he went with other students every week to volunteer. This was something he liked doing, so I reached out to the volunteer coordinator at the retirement community to ask about opportunities for him to continue volunteering with them. It turns out she knew this individual very well and loved the idea of having him continue to work with them. His parents and I learned that he had developed relationships with both the staff and residents at this retirement community. Since then, these individuals have participated in his MAP and he volunteers with them every week. Talking about someone’s weekly routine has been a helpful tool in Community Brokering, as it opens the doors to deeper and more meaningful conversations about a person’s interests and future goals.