Networks: The Key to Inclusion

It’s Community Inclusion Month in BC – time to reflect on our past, present and futures.

At PLAN, we believe support networks are an important part of staying connected to those around us. They help us discover our gifts, nurture talents and provide the opportunity to contribute to others.

Here’s an interview we did with one of our members about their Network. Meet Lyle:


What do you like to do with your Network? 

I just discuss my problems and triumphs with my friends and others who care for me at the meetings. We always start the meetings with a potluck meal. The potluck allows everyone to get to meet one another. Also, we joke and talk about our plans for the future and they try to help me with my plans for my future.  My favourite PLAN network activities are Birthday parties, Christmas parties, BBQs, and AGMs.

What do you like about having a Network?

I like my friends gathering around me every so often. It is like having a small party each time, whereby we chat with each other and eat tasty foods. It is wonderful to have caring friends. My network is very helpful to me.

How has your Network helped you?

My network has helped me get a job at Marine Works, get my apartment cleaned up, lose weight, help me get more friends, etc. They also help me connect to the community.  

I have to remember that “I am a good person. I am loving, caring, and have a good heart. I try to help my friends.”

What are your greatest gifts?

I help out my friends by being there for them, such as Ed, Bill and Graeme. I care a lot about my friends and I am quite hospitable to them. I care about the world. I am very open-minded. I believe in equality for all humans. Human people all around the world should have the same standard of living as we have in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. I support human rights. I believe in animals rights. Humans need to have more respect for spiders. Spider Power!!!

Does your network help you make decisions?

Yes. My network helps with things like birthday parties and Christmas teas. Also, my network helped me decide whether I wanted to have a network, because my family didn’t want me to have a network. They were especially opposed to the Representation Agreement.

Does my network help me plan for the future?

Yes, for when my mom is no longer alive.

What other Networks are you involved with?

I am on three networks besides my own. It is nice that these people consider me a friend in their life. I enjoy the company of others and spending time with them, e.g. Ed Kaufman, Bill Walsh, and others. My only contribution to them is being their friend. Networks help the focus person obtain more friends, find a job, find a place to live, take better responsibility for their health, and help support the individual in their life, especially when their parents pass on. I sometimes wonder what will happen to me when my mom is no longer around to support me. I worry about my mom dying.

How long have you had a PLAN Network?

About 15 years – since 2001.

What are some future activities you have planned with your Network?

I would like my network to also be doing bowling, visiting a museum together, visiting a garden together, discussing current events, e.g. more tolerance towards other human beings, animals, and the environment. It would be great to meet in my friends’ homes instead of my own or at PLAN, in order to guarantee at least a third person to be present instead of just my community connector and myself.

PLAN has been collaborating with families to promote community inclusion for nearly 30 years. We are proud to celebrate Community Inclusion Month with all our friends in the family movement.