|It's a cold but beautiful view outside our rooms at the Painted Boats Resort|
We became aware of and interested in PLAN's work many years ago. One of the founders, Al Etmanski, has a daughter with Down syndrome a little older than Kelly. The Institute published a A Good Life, on life planning for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which still represents the gold standard on the subject.
This conference, however, is not about the nuts and bolts of things. It's a crash course in learning how to think about ways to approach making sure our children, friends, and neighbors with disabilities enjoy the same rights as the rest of us to a good life. The government route is less and less viable, as well as less and less desirable.
One of the sad aspects of the traditional ways societies have gone about doing this is that we ensure victimhood and poverty for those we wish to help. We need to come up with new ways to support people with disabilities in dignity and with real opportunity. Canada has gone light years beyond the United States policy-wise in this area.
Jerry and I are the only two souls from the US at this conference, and the only other non-Canadian is a lady from New Zealand. The rest of the participants come largely from the government and private provider sector. They are a fascinating bunch, and several have participated in this conference for several years now.
The PLAN people were concerned enough when we signed up to come to call us a few weeks ahead of time and make sure that we had some idea we knew what we were getting into. Jerry faked his answer well enough that they let us come.
But we didn't know, not really. The level of sophistication is so beyond me that I just smile and nod a lot during the discussions. Jerry is naive regarding a lot of the specifics of the discussions, but he understands the underlying concepts and is a quick study. Even I, however, can see that this is exactly where we need to be at this juncture in Down Home Ranch's development.
And Jerry's got that look in his eye that I recognize so well.