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Growing advocacy group building a better tomorrow

Growing advocacy group building a better tomorrow

The Family Advocacy Network of Manitoba (FAN) only started with a handful of people advocating for a loved one with an intellectual/developmental disability but six years later membership now reaches nearly 800 families across Manitoba.

“FAN believes that families who are involved, informed, and confident are the most effective advocates for their loved ones,” said Laura Schnellert, a member of FAN’s core organizing committee.

FAN lobbies government officials at every opportunity. Committee members have met with the ministers and senior staff in the Departments of Families and Education along with other MLAs and MPs from different parties to discuss the need to improve service delivery, change outdated policies, and increase funding. They also share what is working.

Action groups representing a cross-section of disabilities and ages have been formed as well. The current four action groups are quality care, inclusive education, supported independent living, and early learning and child care. Summaries of the groups’ work are reported to the membership quarterly through email.

The network also offers peer support through a private Facebook group where members can safely share their feelings, express concerns, ask questions, and stay in touch. This is helpful in managing stress and burnout as well as feeling less isolated. With hundreds of families that cover a spectrum of disabilities, someone is available to lend a hand and listen either in person or online.

“I joined to become more involved in building the type of community that I want my daughter to grow up in,” said FAN member Teresa Johnson. “I found myself really engaging with resource sharing and really wanting to get involved in more.”

Longtime members can attest that everyone who reaches out learns more, helps others, and feels connected.

No matter where you are in the province you can connect with FAN by email: families.caregivers@gmail.com, on their website: www.fanmb.ca or at their Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/1976189482710302.

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