This Vision is to enable families with special needs children and adults with special needs to come together to consciously cultivate a culture we want to be a part of through spending time together living in an inclusive environment and feeling supported while being part of a ‘natural learning’ activity program. to provide enriching quality-of-life experiences for people with special needs, their carers, families, support staff and friends… Indirectly finding compatibilities, common strengths and building a community-living environment where our “kids” can spend more time and form supportive and hopefully lifelong friendships… and through which we can in the long term create a village environment which provides a community space for young people and adults with disabilities to be and feel included in community life and activities.
Our Mission is to create programs and projects which reduce our present sense/state of isolation, to ease the care burden on parents of special needs children, and also to create broader opportunities for Inclusion through building spaces for learning and sharing, creativity, music and dance, brain-gym/play-therapies, natural building and community farming activities – where we may share time, hobbies, adventures, food and humour.
“I believe that it is safer for our “kids” to be ‘in community’ than “alone” in a care home/institution… And forming naturally protective community around our kids is the best safeguard for their future when we are ‘gone’.”
Program and Project Aims:
- To co-create a collaborative inclusive family environment to learn, work and play in… Somewhere to be part of a fun-filled commotion of activity and people where skills can be shared/learned/exchanged in a safe community environment
- To form a ‘time-share’-like set-up which values financial and in-kind contribution and creates an opportunity for parent/carers to live AND collaboratively care for our kids also… (Where parents can have some “retreat time” and some time with their family).
- Create opportunities for people with disabilities to become involved in setting up the framework and structure for living “in community” and to live a life of contribution and involvement in what happens on a day-to-day basis IN their communities.
- To work in collaboration with local organisations who manage care and activity programs to evolve a model that PWD and their families can use to drive wider village project developments.
- To develop a post-school program model and to enhance the accessibility of our existing local school programs.
- To provide training and upskilling for care-givers and staff in areas from teacher-support to high-needs care, ‘behaviour management’, assistive communication and complimentary therapies.
- To share inclusive activities while sharing skills – returning to the basic fundamentals of being human, a sense of companionship and caring for Earth; Valuing simply living and honouring ourselves and
- To enable us to Feel supported by a thriving healthy sustainable co-operative and collaborative community supported by a sustainable community business characterised by social engagement opportunities and leveraged to enhance our lives and those of our children.
Through creating a web of collaboration between the local and wider international community (including people with disabilities, able people, professionals, friends); paid support staff and helpers/volunteers; and, other parents of special needs people, a community can be created around our kids that is like a natural village – where it’s not ‘WORK” to look after PWD; it’s not a “job”! It’s just life – in which everyone has a Vital role: Whether it be in day-based activities with the kids, community support, kitchen, laundry, gardening, cleaning, driving, leading yoga/meditation/music/sport activities… everyone has a part to play and levels of contribution can vary according to ability and means.
Wouldn’t you just WANT to do that anyway?!
Building a Bridge:
Ownership to Custodianship – a Co-operative concept
How many people alive today remember when people lived close to each other and helped each other in an extended family situation? – grew food and gardened together, made craft together, walked to go swimming together, made meals together, looked after their elderly people – together … What does it take to go outside and start growing some seeds, gather fresh produce from the garden? make a meal?, play with kids or build a treehouse or mud structure???!
Maybe just a little organising?…..
What if everyone did for 3 or 4 hours a day – something they actually enjoy doing….?
Whether that’s feeding chickens, enjoying compost, cleaning toilets, gardening, giving a massage, cooking or preparing a meal, play with/educate kids, work on a building, filter water…. What would our lives look like if everyone just DID that?
This comes back to the idea of Co-contribution: If everyone volunteers 2-3 or 4 hours a day (depending on needs and agreed contribution) then the ‘normal’ costs of staffing for overall will be lowered. “Kids” with similar needs may be grouped together and do activities which are appropriate for them – whether in helping prepare food, cleaning, gardening, harvesting food – all of which forms part of the post-school program run by the Yayasan (not-for-profit entity). Where appropriate, funding may be utilised to share carers and equipment. Overall, the aim is for our “kids” to form friendships and participate in group activities and contribute meaningfully instead of being alone/isolated.
The Village will have a “volunteer” or Ground Zero community program that accepts “helpers” who come and stay and help enrich the social fabric and creativity/arts experiences for our kids and who may help in areas such as musical and arts activities, Thera-play activities, general care-giving/supervision, food preparation, gardening, natural building, administration, advertising, language skills etc. Food and accommodation is provided by the village in exchange for an agreed contribution in a chosen area.
Helpers may stay With families or in our volunteer dorm accommodation. We hope to establish a network of visiting artists and carers who just enjoy to take time out and come and help in our village and be part of our family-life. There may be participants with specialist skills who come on an “internship” or for a “working holiday”… this may include those with whom a collaboration can be made for in-kind contribution on a one-off basis or in an agreed way if they would like their time and talent to contribute towards “owning” a share in the Co-operative. This can also apply to “skilled professionals”. And it may mean parents who have skills and are committed to the project development are enabled to “earn” their share in the village and spend more time actively involved in the start-up phase, while being part of the community – rather than struggling to care for their person with special needs and working in the “western society” context.
I have been working on and integrating this “volunteer aspect” and testing out things here in the local context of building my house in Denpasar… I have had maybe around 50 people stay with us as volunteers and have found people to be a lovely help in building (especially since this is natural building and with bamboo which is very attractive for ‘conscious travellers’) and having friends/visitors brings social stimulation for myself, and a more lively dynamic to our household – privides language practice and interest for my carers (I’m not a big talker) and we have had quite a few little adventure trips around with our vols and have got to see ‘a bit more of the island’. There are positives and negatives, as with all things, and overall, it’s been an enriching and de-isolating experience.
I anticipate that people with disabilities with capacity to contribute in the initial start-up and development areas with their skills and expertise may also be included and participate fully in the community village formation. In my view, it is better to tap on this vast resource that I believe is lying latent due to the collision of battling to achieve funding needs in our home countries with being able to have a freaking life… ! I don’t want to dictate to anyone. I just hope that I can inspire others towards leading a more independent impactful life more time can be spent Living Life In Community.
If people did what they loved, and gave/contributed from their heart, imagine what feeling there would be among people…. Of course we still need money and there’s certain things we like to be paid for. But things in general, that make up life, that have become commodified; that are really just very basic and I would even say “necessary” parts of being human – somehow have been relegated to “others” while we spend our time instead in shopping malls, in front of the computer/TV; behind a desk/isolated etc. If everyone contributed 3-4 hours/day whether to growing vegetables, preparing meals, supervising kids/looking after kids, natural building activities or natural therapies – we would have a lot of our needs met without having to spend so much money on these things… We could have a more cultural learning / community sharing experience and feel like a family… I feel like, especially for the life of my daughter – I want to experience her living in Real community and to Live Life in Revivement (coming back to life)… not waiting for Retirement (for life to go away).