A new organization to advocate for disability rights in BC

Facilitating systems change with the BC Disability Collaborative
When the BC government made a decision that would negatively affect families who receive autism funding, the autism community moved quickly to advocate for change. Assembling a rough coalition that went beyond only Autism-related organizations — reaching out to friends and colleagues and orgs who support families with Downs Syndrome, deaf children, ADHD kids and more — this group expressed their concerns, and were surprised to find: the government listened! The decision was reversed. The advocacy had worked!

 They were left looking around the proverbial room, asking themselves: What did we just do? And, do we need a voice like ours to exist beyond this moment in time?

Thus was born the idea of the BC Disability Collaborative — a network consisting of cross-disability representatives, acting as a voice for advocacy and activism on behalf of children and families with support needs in British Columbia. 

And yet, it was hard to gain traction to move forward into clarity, progress and momentum. Fully voluntary, time was already a scarce commodity for all participants. As a collective across many disabilities, it was hard to name a clear, uniting purpose, and conversations would inevitably slow down in order to focus on emerging differences. 
In this ambiguous fog of the start-up phase, Co.school was asked to help partner with the emerging BCDC to help move from “just an idea” to “an organization that exists.” 

Co.school designed a series of interactive sessions, designed to help move through conflict, towards agreement, and into momentum. We helped facilitate a process that resulted in BCDC’s official Terms of Reference being co-created and adopted, and enabled this nascent group to develop its mission, vision, values, scope and more. 

“The BC Disability Collaborative (BCDC) is an emerging group of 12 non-profit organizations whose members advocate on behalf of children and youth with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, and medical complexities. It is not an exaggeration to say that, without Co.school’s support, the BCDC would not have been able to co-create and adopt a Terms of Reference document to guide the organization. 

Kevan and Charlotte truly understand the challenges of working within a very diverse community that is accustomed to experiences of marginalization. In all of our interactions, they have been results-oriented, responsible, respectful, and responsive. We look forward to their continued support as we work with the provincial government to achieve real systems change on behalf of disabled children and their families.”

Pat Mirenda, Ph.D., Interim Chair, BCDC
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