Connections Can ENERGIZE!
Spring is often a season of renewed energy. People emerge from behind closed doors and begin to reconnect with one another outside in the neighbourhood, at outdoor events and markets, on bike paths, patio decks, and in parks. It’s a wonderful thing!
Connection is energy between people. Relationships with others bring joy and meaning into our lives. Whether we consider ourselves an introvert or an extrovert by nature, we all thrive when we are well connected.
You may have heard people talk about the importance of building “natural supports”. Research has identified that it is most beneficial for families and individuals living with disability to have a combination of both formal (paid) and informal (unpaid, natural) supports in their lives. But sometimes it is difficult to build a network when you are simply trying to survive day to day, overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for a child or youth with a disability.
Maybe it would help to see the process of expanding your social connections like creating a patchwork quilt. A variety of pieces can be added, one at a time. Sometimes a piece might not fit very well, other times a piece might get faded or torn and need to be replaced. Your quilt might grow to be very large, or it may stay small and cozy. Regardless, each piece will add a special quality and different beauty to your blanket of connections.
Here are some simple ways you can begin building your ‘natural supports quilt’:
Identify your current supports.
Ask yourself: Who listens to me when I need someone to talk to? Who do I call when I need help or advice? Who energizes me when we spend time together? Is there someone who drains my energy, or a relationship that I need to let go of? Who shares a similar interest or has a common bond with me?
Just thinking about making connections and being open to possibilities is a great way to start.
Try to strengthen a relationship with an acquaintance.
Is there someone you see in passing in the neighbourhood, someone you have met through a mutual friend, or someone you’ve talked to at a support group with whom you feel you could build a stronger connection?
Start to be intentional about making connections with others.
Join a group.
A great way to build social supports is to connect with others who share similar interests. Take a forward step! Hire a respite worker and give yourself the gift of joining a small group, faith-based group, parent support group, or interesting class.
If you can’t get out in community in-person, there are now many support groups for parents of children with disabilities that meet online. This can be a great way to make initial connections. It’s also a valuable way to meet people who can identify and empathize with your situation, challenges, and joys.
CLICK HERE for a current list of parent support groups that you can explore.
You can also search the Children’s Link Community Resource database on our website, using the following link: https://childrenslink.ca/community-support/.
Give social support to others.
Studies reveal that it may be more important for us to give than to receive.
So reach out, help someone else in need as you are able, volunteer for a cause you believe in, or just bless someone with an encouraging or appreciative message. Be there for others. It’s a great way to add friends to your network who will also be there for you, when you need assistance.
This month, try ENERGIZING as you connect with someone new or build upon a previous connection with someone special.
An easy way to accomplish this would be to join us (in-person or online) as Children’s Link celebrates 25 Years of service to families, agencies, and communities on May 25th. We are truly Better Together! CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.
Looking forward to seeing you soon,
Sandra Cicman and The Children’s Link Team