August 16, 2011

Positive and Possible

Earlier I had written about some of the programs Alex is working on to better plan and advocate for her own future. We have participated in two so far, through PEAK Parent Center, a family advocacy and education organization located in Colorado Springs.

PEAK’s focus in on person centered planning, a philosophy that recognizes the hopes and dreams of the person with disabilities first, and the family second. This works to help young adults with disabilities plan for a positive and possible future, one where a person is respected for who they are, not what they have.

There are two programs specific to person centered planning (PCP), Path and Taking Charge. Taking Charge is a 5 Saturday course to learn about self-advocacy, as well as creating circles of support and building networks. PATH is a two hour facilitated session that creates a plan for the future.

Following is an excerpt from the PEAK website:

Taking Charge! is a five-session course that uses a person-centered approach to helping young adults with disabilities develop self-advocacy and leadership skills. This course is recommended for people who have already participated in a person-centered planning activity (like the PATH process or Life Building Course) and who want more information and help to move ahead with their plans. Participants can each invite up to three friends and family members or others to participate with them. Participants gain new ideas, skills and strategies for creating a better life. Taking Charge! gives people tools for turning dreams into reality! Spanish language interpretation is available on request.

What happens at TAKING CHARGE?

Taking Charge! is a highly interactive learning experience that involves brief presentations and large and small group discussions. Every session includes time for participants and their circle members to work on their own plans as well as time to share ideas with members of other circles.

What past participants had to say about the Taking Charge Course:

“I learned how to speak up for myself.”
“Truly one of the finest experiences. My son and I came away with so much energy, hope, vision, and excitement!”
“Many good things have happened for me since Taking Charge

Alex’s session occurred once a month from February to June, with homework assignments in between. She was encouraged to include three people from her circle (of support) to join her for the day. These guests included, John, me, Courtney, Tom, Alex’s teacher and her best friend Sarah (who visited in March). We all enjoyed the course and took away a firmer belief that Alex will live her future, and it is up to her and all of us to honor her dreams.

Alex loved the course, it gave her an opportunity to participate in classroom where she was respected and valued for her opinion. Alex was allowed to sing and share her YouTube videos. She also learned to use her own voice (not mine) and look outside her comfort zone for people who could help her create the future she envisioned.

Most importantly Alex made friends, people she does not usually see in her everyday life. She has continued to see these friends and two of them now ride with Alex and WindWalkers. It was a great success for all of us.

Taking Charge goes hand in hand with the PATH process. More to follow.


  1. Just found your great blog -thought you might be interested in hearing about ours. Daniela's Journey to Independence at: is a blog following my daughter's efforts to advocate for herself and become an independent adult. We are very excited this week because she is leaving to start a great postsecondary program in Wisconsin - Shepherds College. It is truly an innovative and amazing program. You can read more about in our blog. I thought it might be something that might interest your daughter - and you, of course!! Take care. I will enjoy following your blog!


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