On January 28th, a small group of people from across Canada came together to discuss how we could work together to end isolation and loneliness among persons with disabilities in Canada. For many persons with disabilities, the consequences of isolation and loneliness are more significant than any disability. This Statement of Intent is also an invitation to others to join with us in this broad, national initiative.
The following summarizes our conclusions resulting from our discussion:
Critical to the resolution of this social problem is a shift in the way in which all of us think and act. Societal perceptions of unable, less than and different must be replaced with perceptions of capacity, contribution and belonging.
We think that the resolution of this important social problem would have the following dimensions:
· Our human need for belonging and meaning
· Restoring the concept of our obligations to each other to our understanding of citizenship
· An appreciation for interdependence and reciprocity
Our discussions were encouraging. We came away committed to invite others to join our discussions and our search for solutions.
We are convinced collaboration is essential – the challenge is broader than any one group.
We think our collaboration should be multi-disciplinary, cross sectoral and multi-sectoral in order to harness our collective good will, talent, knowledge, expertise and successes.
We think that the work will take time and thus our collaboration will need to be sustained over time.
We think our collaboration will need to involve consideration of the following elements:
· ethics and guiding principles
· children, youth and emerging leaders
· public policy
· organizational transformation
· nurturing relationships for a significant number of individuals
· collaboration across the disability sector
· collaboration with other sectors of our society.
Two interim descriptions of collaboration are: