The Representative for Children and Youth supports children, youth, young adults and families who need help in dealing with systems serving young people, provides oversight to the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Community Living BC and advocates for improvements. Below, David Johnston, president of BC People First, describes his recent experience working with RCY.
In November 2013, BC People First was approached by Fred Ford, the Director of Advocacy for Youth and Young Adults with the Representative for Children and Youth. When he approached us, I took it to the BC People First board and we talked about it, and we voted in favour of working with the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY).
Fred wanted BC People First to work together with RCY to help make sure that their materials are in plain language and advocates are well prepared to support all of the young people who contact the RCY office. RCY is now working with youth (19 to 24) labeled with a development disability to get the services they need from CLBC.
Fred wanted BC People First to create a workshop that would give the staff at RCY a better understanding on how they might present to people labeled with a developmental disability. So we started putting the workshop together. It took a lot of talking on the phone with our Board and Fred to understand what he wanted to see in the presentation and what points he wanted us to make.
The workshop we put together included different parts like Plain Language, presented by Lorie Sherrit and Barbe Goode. I also did a presentation called How to do a Path: stories of not being included or being spoken down to. Our opening exercise was called “Do You Know Someone”. It was about asking the group to think about people they knew that communicated in different way. This exercise really got the group thinking and talking about ideas and figuring out how they might present differently in the future.
Afterwards, we contacted Fred and asked him what the workshop meant to the Advocacy team at the RCY. Fred said, ” Our staff really appreciated how open the People First representatives were in sharing their experiences. We want young people to contact our office for help to have their voices heard, their rights respected and to get the supports they need. The information about plain language, our discussions and role playing exercises have helped us to work with our new client group.”
Our members were really impressed with the RCY Advocacy team. All the staff at Representative for Children and Youth were very impressed with how the BC People First presented the workshop, and how we conducted ourselves. They were great to work with. They were passionate about rights and helping young people.
The workshop was a big success. Thank you to all the presenters.
BC People First and RCY are presently working on the plain language pamphlet that is all about the UN Convention on Rights Of Person with Disabilities and we are looking forward to doing a workshop together with RCY at the Inclusion BC conference in June.
People between 19 and 24 who have been labeled with a developmental disability who need help being heard, help with their rights or help getting support from CLBC can call the RCY office at 1-800-476-3933.
My hope is that this partnership with BC People First and RCY will be ongoing because the relationship between us both is good and if they need help with workshops or other things we hope they will keep us in mind for the future.