Dave Hingsburger, a well-known speaker and advocate was the keynote speaker at Sunbeam’s Lunch & Learn on September 25th. Dave is a humourous storyteller who is able to relay his message through his own life experiences. He shares these in such a real, raw and honest way that they spark some serious emotions. His main message is very clear: The way we can best support individuals with disabilities is to really get to know who they are and help them find their community.
Here is one of the many stories Dave shared that clearly outlined how we want to be making contact, making connections and making community:
Dave was visiting a group home to offer support to staff and an individual supported he noticed, each time he visited this home, a man sitting in a rocking chair, rocking continually. We will call him Simon. After several visits to the group home, having a few spare minutes at the end of a meeting, Dave asked about Simon in the rocking chair. The staff were able to share that he is was an easy person to take care of. “Tell me what he likes”, encouraged Dave. Well, no one had an answer other than “Simon likes to rock in his chair.” Simon rocks but does that make him happy? was Dave’s thought. So he put the challenge out to the staff that at his next visit he wanted to know one thing, besides rocking, that Simon liked. Upon his return he was happily met by a front line worker who shared that while out for a drive, Simon had laughed out loud at the sound of a garbage truck backing up. Wow this is great, said Dave. Now how can we recreate this same sound? Someone suggested video games, which was a great idea and so the home purchased an Atari system and the game Pong. For anyone who does not know what the game of Pong is, it is one of the first computer games that was ever created. It’s been described as a “tennis like” game and it features two paddles and a ball. The ball travels from the top of the screen to the bottom where, with your joystick you try and connect with the ball to the paddle so that it will bounce back. It makes a crazy sound that we had hoped would make Simon Laugh out Loud (LOL).
Well it was a success, not only did Simon love to watch staff play the games but with just a few adjustments to the joystick, he was able to play it himself. This was clearly what made Simon happy. Now, how could community be created for Simon with this new found internal passion? They headed down to the local arcade. The noises in that place were loud, they varied in tone, and they hit from all directions. Simon found his community, and going to the arcade became part of his routine. As the players got to know him by name they would greet him and call him over to their game to cheer them on. Simon, who previously spent his days rocking back and forth on his own, had integrated into a community where he was able to actively contribute, and where he became known and appreciated for who he was and what he had to offer.
What we learned from that story and the others Dave shared was that there is an intentional act required of us. We must connect and build relationships with the individuals in our care so that they can experience it with others. So he challenged everyone in attendance about their thinking, encouraging us all to look within each individual we serve to help them connect with others in real community. The first step to that is engaging with each individual to uncover the passion within them.
This was one of two Lunch and Learns presented by Sunbeam Centre this year. Thank you to the many other agencies that attended. If you are interested in 2019 Lunch and Learns please connect with Carole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-893-6200 x 250.