Building advocacy networks for people

so that they have a good life even after their parents are no longer here to stand up for them

Building advocacy networks for people

so that their families have peace of mind about the future

Building advocacy networks for people

so that they are empowered to realise their aspirations and contribute to their community

Building advocacy networks for people

so that they form intentional friendships that broaden and enrich their lives

Building advocacy networks for people

so that they develop stronger links in the wider community

Building advocacy networks for people

so that they are as fulfilled and happy as they can be

01989 555006

Dreams and Gifts: Judith Snow's Experience

According to Judith Snow, “If we become good at listening to what a person's dream is, we become good at supporting them to find their way to that dream.”

Recognised today as a pioneer in her field, Judith was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a baby. She describes herself as a person who can barely use her body at all, depending on several personal attendants for her everyday life and work. In 1980 she made history by becoming the first person in Canada to receive an individual budget from the government in Ontario. Since then she has been hugely influential as a social reformer, international speaker and advocate for inclusion.

For many years Judith dreamt of being a long-distance driver, travelling from Toronto to California and back in a large high-tech truck with 18+ wheels and space inside for a bed. “I would get lots of money for doing things,” she says. “I'd work for 6 months of the year and make enough money to take off for the rest of the year. The second 6 months I would rest and reflect and do other things.”

Because she was embarrassed, she took ages finding the courage to share her dream with her support circle. They helped her see the key components: a desire to travel widely, bring something important to people, and earn enough to allow time at home to rest, reflect and learn new things to share.

Although she doesn't drive a truck, Judith says: “I now do travel internationally talking to people about how we can support all of our diversities. My dream has come true and my life is satisfying to me. It is a life of contribution to other people. All the information we needed was in the dream about my being a truck driver.”

Like many of us, Judith has found that “The problem with most kinds of planning around people who are vulnerable, either because they are labelled physically, behaviourally or mentally disabled, is that we focus on what's wrong with the person or with their family. As we focus on what's wrong with them, we end up with ways to try and fix them but with no way to move forward in that person's life. Often you end up getting stuck.”

Everyone has something unique and positive to offer their community. This principle is key to ACSYL's work. Circles of support are there to empower each focus person, encouraging his/her talents to shine. Some talents are easier to spot than others, but all are valuable. Judith has compiled a long list entitled "Gifts and Assets that People Who Are Vulnerable to Rejection Commonly Bring to Community". The list is divided into sections such as Hospitality, Skill Building, and The Economy. This is what appears under Networking:
- reaching out to people and breaking down barriers
- asking questions that everyone else is too shy to ask
- bringing people together who otherwise would never meet

You can read the full list of gifts and assets at the address below. We think you'll be inspired.

Judith's circle of support played a pivotal role in helping her dream come true. Their listening skills, empathy and imagination helped her look beyond the surface of the dream to find its essence.


"Judith Snow on Dreaming", pp. 64-66 in All My Life's a Circle: Using the Tools: Circles, MAPS & PATHS by Mary A Falvey, Marsha Forest, Jack Pearpoint & Richard L Rosenberg (Toronto: Inclusion Press, third printing - second edition, 2003), p. 64