We all know the importance of communities feeling connected as beneficial to our emotional, mental, and social health. The support networks that exist within communities help us to alleviate the stresses of daily living, and to overcome the challenges that life throws at us. It is these communities and networks that we turn to when we wish to celebrate success, to socialize, to have fun. It is also these communities and networks that we rely on when we are tired, overwhelmed, and need support. Community, and the sense of belonging that comes with it, is essential to living a fulfilled, happy life.
At ILO, most of the members of the Board of Directors are also a part of a participating family; all participating families have self-advocates that wish to live independently. This desire for independent living, as well as the recognition of the importance of community, has led to the creation of our organization. We understand that parents of individuals with special needs do not have the wide array of resources needed to build communities in which their self-advocates can live, supported yet independently. ILO is creating those communities, bringing together peers and caring people that will form support networks for ILO self-advocates for the rest of their lives, even after the parents are gone.
ILO is itself a community, for parents that are facing similar challenging experiences, and celebrating as they prepare for their family member with disability to live independently as a part of the wider community. Through our work with Center for Independent Futures® , participating families learn how to create intentional communities for their self-advocates that are individualized and person-centered, supported through the use of community partnerships and community pods.
Center for Independent Futures® name and trademarks are used with permission.