PLAN – A Family Led Innovation

by Nancy Ford, Director of Learning and Family Development


Discovering that PLAN families are genuine leaders in our communities has been for me both a humbling experience and an extraordinary journey.   Given their diverse and unique circumstances, member families at PLAN deeply understand the need to think innovatively.   Of necessity, they have often been forced to come up with inventive solutions, which will ensure a more secure and beneficial life for their son or daughter, and often as a side benefit, these innovative solutions enhance society at large.

It follows that PLAN families are adept in problem solving and alert to societal norms, which don’t serve their situation or that of the larger community, and they are swift to act to change them.  As true leaders, their efforts affect the larger community and indeed, the world.

PLAN families have become experts in Will and Estate planning.  They recognized that disability benefits often clashed with legislation and that limiting the amount of disability pension based on income and assets inhibited families from providing all the support they might otherwise have contributed.  A direct result of their efforts to rectify this situation has resulted in the alignment of family assets with community and government assets. Disability policy, both at federal and provincial levels, is significantly closer to securing the financial future of a person with a disability.

While great strides have been made on the fiscal front, the severe loneliness of many of our loved ones is another problem that was no match for PLAN families.  The disability community has been trying to solve the isolation for over thirty years now, and true to form, PLAN families have uncovered a model where an intentional network of support is created around the disabled relative and secured through lasting family relationships built on friendship and contribution.   One by one these support networks began to shine a light on the gifts and strength of the individual and of the community they convened, networks facilitated by PLAN, but held together with love. However, it takes courage and foresight for people with disabilities and families to intentionally convene these networks.  No two networks are alike and the work demands that families learn to hold on differently, in fact step out of the way to let others in.

Planning for the future requires courage and vision, both characterized by the leadership here at PLAN and the family led affiliate organizations across Canada and around the world.  A salute to all people with disabilities and their families for their unique insight, innovative thinking and remarkable resilience! You indeed have much to share with the world!