Director Joanna Goode explains role of Facilitation Wellington Dufferin

March 15, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

The good for the few definitely benefits the good of the many: “It’s all about bringing people into a place which feeds their passion. Then, to share that passion with others, the issues around their disabilities are no longer at the forefront.”

Joanna Goode, Director of Facilitation Wellington-Dufferin (FWD) was explaining the importance of what the organization does.

Last August, as a result of her work with an facilitator with FWD, Sarah Godfrey hosted an Art Show at the Alton Mill Arts Centre, with guest artist Nathan Gatton, who has likewise benefitted from Independent Facilitation. Through her progress with FWD, Sarah has established a business, selling her art on cards and T-shirts.

It’s not only in the lives of the families but also the community, in which an disabled adult functions, benefits from the work and growth they attain, working with Independent Facilitation. 

Sadly, Facilitation Wellington Dufferin is one of the victims of the Ford government’s cuts.

As Ms. Goode explained, “The facilitators spend their whole careers developing those relationships and uncovering opportunities. They’re really skilled in helping people see the best in themselves. So, Sarah began in truth to see herself as an artist. When her art show, with Nathan Gatton, was at Alton, the community of visitors and the other artists, at the Mill and in Dufferin County, were given a new, slightly shifted look at what constitutes an art show and who might stage one. It was a learning time for everybody.”

She added, “For me, what that means is that everyone can see how our communities are richer when everyone takes part.”

Why this is important, “Maybe, there needs to be a discussion about fund cutting because these organizations are at our best when we have core funding. That gives us the chance for our facilitators to take this up as a career.

“What Independent Facilitation means is that individuals with special needs, have the support they need, one on one, to envision their best life. When someone works with a facilitator, they discover what their skills and their interests could be or are. And then the things they could be good at can make them truly a member of the community.”

This is the plan for each of us in life, after all: that we plan for ourselves, according to what our interests and skills might be or are and work towards making our lives around them.

“A person with disabilities or special needs, might not have that opportunity and their family or caregivers may well not have had the information they need to help them. So, a facilitator comes and discusses many issues, taking the person on a journey of self discovery and then working on that.”

She added, “Part of it is family members may not have the time, with work and other issues. So, they bring in a facilitator to help with that. There are all of the emotions that can go with stuff and, frankly, this is a lot of work. Sometimes, people are sole caregivers for years and that’s very wearing.”

Considering that FDW’s annual budget is about $250,000, caring for 93 clients, “it is a fairly small investment of money, and it helps people get a vision of what they can be. It’s helping people to dream big.”

Another example: “We support a gentleman named Dale, who uses an iPad to communicate because he doesn’t speak. So, with the help from one of our facilitators, he hosted a workshop at a high school to demonstrate there are many ways to communicate; he wanted people to understand that and not to be afraid to talk to him. He did this training event and would like to keep doing this, benefitting not only himself but also the larger community, of high school students and other people, to learn that there are many ways to communicate.”

There are other Facilitation organizations in Ontario and in Canada but FWD is the only one serving Dufferin and Wellington counties.

“Facilitators do a combination of training with provincial experts,” Ms. Goode informed us, “we send them away for training. We also train them ourselves and they have ongoing access to mentoring, the local and provincial community of practice with the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network. The idea behind that is that this is very complex work and because this is individual, it is not something that you can learn through a few times of doing it. 

“The facilitators need to be really flexible through their work because it is different with every family and situation. They need to have support while doing it, a core group of colleagues for ongoing discussion and learning.

”We hire facilitators based on their values and their communication skills, then, we take that and teach them. Our facilitators take them as apprentices; then, they work as affiliates, meaning they’re no longer new to the work but have a really good handle on how to help people.

“Even then, and, always because this work is so hard, there is still access to mentoring. In order to do it well, you have to have contact and discussion with other people who have the same values. The community knows why this is important. 

“Also, in spite of the funding cuts, we’re not giving up. We believe this is important so we’re going to continue to do this on a pay-for basis, so that people that want it and can pay for it, can access it.

“If other people feel this is important , they can give support to FWD. One of the ways is to donate, so that we can offer subsidies to those who want this but could not afford it. Our priority right now is to keep facilitation happening in the community. The hope is that we can get to the point where we’ve found ourselves funded.”

One way to learn more is by visiting the Independent Facilitation Matters website.

Ms. Goode said, “This is about adults. Not children. People do learn to live independently as a result of working with us. Because so much of our work focusses on relationships, it means that they are no longer isolated. Because of their involvement in the community, now they have a stronger network of friends.

“Having the mentoring available is crucial to facilitators and we will still make that work. We’re going to keep providing that sort of thing and we’re working on how to pay for it.

There is government “passport funding” – usually $5,000 or a little more – for adults. Families have to really stretch it because it’s got to pay for all the supports they need for the whole year, like transportation, costs to take a class, other needs. It is not even enough to pay for those. They could use up to $2,500 a year for facilitation but, generally, there’s too many other things they have to spend that money on.”

She says people have to understand how important this is. “I would be thrilled if one or more big sponsors came forward.”

Ms. Goode can be reached at


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