"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements."
~ Napoleon Hill

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name ...

I must say that I find it amazing how closely this list of changes to disciplinary policies that Mississippi schools have agreed to due to "discriminatory" practices against black students mirror exactly the changes that need to be made to accommodate students with disabilities.

Leaving me to wonder ... must we paint our children's skin a different colour in order to have their constitutionally-protected rights recognized and respected?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

P-P-P-P-P-Purple. Again.

Purple Day is fast approaching.

And Purple Day is a bit of a big thing around here, as you might recall.

Meaning right at the moment I am up to my eyeballs in posters, buttons, wallet cards, Purple Daisies, brochures, pamphlets, bookmarks, pens, stickers ... the list goes on.

And cupcakes, of course ... right, never forget the cupcakes!

So while we prepare to do our small part in the grand endeavour to paint the world Purple ...

Please remember to Wear Purple on March 26th.

And have A Very Coole Purple Day.

"Limited Scope" Legal Services Now Available in Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has recently announced that "limited scope" legal services will now be allowed in Nova Scotia.

"Things just got easier for Nova Scotians who want to retain a lawyer for just a portion of a legal matter. Although many lawyers already provide “limited scope legal services,” new clarity and direction in the legal profession’s rules of conduct should improve public access to a broader range of these services."

This means that lawyers in the Province will now be allowed to represent a client for only part of a matter, without the expectation that they are acting generally in the matter or are the solicitor of record.

This so-called ‘unbundling’ of legal services has become fairly common in other parts of Canada and in the US, particularly as lawyers now often find themselves competing with online legal document service providers.

But it's good news for the public because if offers more possibilities for that large segment of the population who doesn’t qualify for Legal Aid and is simply unable to afford the cost of hiring a lawyer to represent them throughout an entire matter. And, as you might recall that, when it came to the issue of applying for guardianship of an adult family member, it was exactly this same situation that motivated me to create the Nova Scotia Legal Guardianship Kit.

The new rules will now allow lawyers and clients to agree on exactly what legal services the lawyer will provide, meaning that the lawyer might be hired just to prepare affidavits or other documents, for example, while the client acts alone in court or the lawyer might attend court only to examine or cross-examine a witness, while the client handles the rest of the matter.

As I said, this really should be a win-win situation for the public, offering access to the legal system to a group of people that have become more and more marginalized, while lawyers are held to the same standard of competence for that portion of the matter they agree to undertake as is always required in any situation of legal representation.

Of course, good communication will be crucial as both parties need to be completely clear and on the same page as to who, exactly, is responsible for doing what, exactly. So should you find yourself considering proceeding in such a manner, please ensure (for your own protection and to avoid any possible misunderstanding) that it is clearly specified, in writing, exactly what the lawyer is agreeing to do and what you, as the client, are responsible for doing yourself.

And as for me, speaking both personally and professionally, I must say that I find this whole concept of "unbundling" very exciting as I look forward to the next phase of my life.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Batter Up

That would be you and me, folks.

Just another reminder that a series of community meetings* start this week across the Province. A series of community meetings that persons with disabilities, their family members and their friends need to attend.

The meetings follow the government's release of the long awaited Continuing Care/Services for Persons with Disabilities discussion paper, "Putting People First - Working Together to Support Independence and Dignity".

Let's admit it. We're all pretty good at moaning and complaining calling the government out on the pathetic situation facing persons with disabilities in this Province, both in housing and otherwise. And rightfully so.

But the question in my mind is "Will we be just as committed to doing our part to find a solution?".

Criticism is easy; finding solutions is often much more difficult.

So here's your chance, read the discussion paper (which, honestly, doesn't tell really tell those who live this day in and day out anything we didn't already know but at least it acknowledges the problem and appears to want to move forward) and come out to a meeting in your area*.

Bring your spouse, your children, your friends. But, most importantly, bring your self.

As they say - you're either part of the problem or part of the solution. Which will you be?

* A meeting in Digby has now been added.
Thursday, April 4, 3013 ~ 4:00 - 6:00 pm
Annapolis Basin Conference Centre
761 Broadway Ave., Cornwallis Park
Cornwallis Room.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Failing to 'Educate Peter"

I came across this video in a blog post entitled "Is Full Inclusion a Good Idea?".

And after watching the video, I completely understand why they felt the need to ask the question. Go ahead and watch - I found it both fascinating and appalling.

So tell me, please, how can anyone, for even one minute, suggest that this is "inclusion"?

Where was Peter's aide? They didn't really expect one teacher to handle him and the rest of the class, did they? Didn't he have an IEP (IPP)? A behavioral plan perhaps? Why where there so little consequences attached to his behavior?

I was shocked to see Peter get away with kicking the other boy in the face. And as the parent of a mentally challenged child, I would be mad as hell to have seen her "educated" in this manner. You and I know that they weren't doing Peter any favors. He needed to be taught appropriate behavior and that actions have consequences.

That they put the other students and his teacher through that was unbelievable. That they put Peter through that was unforgivable.

And how about teaching him that the way we interact with Dad (for example) is not the way we are to interact with other kids (the hug and kiss with the apology)? After watching the end of the video, I totally got why Peter would jump on the backs of the other students - it was a game he played with Dad.

I suppose it might be argued that at least some good ultimately came from their methods based on his behavior four months later, but ... really??

Perhaps we should spread this video around as an example of how NOT to educate our children.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

'To Fight the Unbeatable Foe'

UPDATE: Advocacy wins the day. Now, for heaven's sake, please let these ladies live in peace.
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go 
These were the words that came to my mind today when I read that a ReMax real estate agent is appealing the Town of Bridgewater's decision to change its zoning bylaws to allow LaHave Manor Corp. to open a new group home.

You might recall last Spring when the LeHave Corporation attempted to purchase a property that was ideally-suited for use as a group home by three women that have lived together for over 18 years. It seemed like a great idea until neighbours started complaining and the Town decided that the property couldn't become a group home because it violated zoning bylaws -bylaws that allowed for "low density residential housing", also known as single family dwellings. Apparently, the Town viewed three people living together in the community as an "institution".

But just when we thought saner heads had prevailed and all was well (the Town changed its by-laws to allow the group home to be opened), we now come to find out that Ron Bullen, an agent with RE/MAX South Shore Realty, along with a merry group of fellow real estate agents, has filed an appeal of the Town`s decision with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

The reason? Apparently they are afraid that the group home will cause real estate values in the "upscale neighbourhood" to fall.

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
One of the better lines in the article has to belong to local resident Brian Tennyson, who stateed at a public meeting that he's not opposed to the zoning change because it's a "residential-care facility", but because "councillors and staff were manipulated, pressured and intimidated by LaHave Manor Corp".

Hey, you might just be on to something there, Mr. Tennyson. Town Council might just have been intimidated. And some things are, indeed, worthy of intimidation.

Such as the public statements recently made by the Minister of Community Services to the effect that persons with disabilities have the right to live in the community and if you disagree ... well, that's too bad.

Also worthy of intimidation? The fact that you might just be running afoul of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
"Bridgewater prides itself on being an inclusive community and as such wants to incorporate the intent of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities," the release said. "We acknowledge that the rights of disabled persons are equal to the rights of any other person in our community."
This fight is not, cannot, be over.

Perhaps a few well-placed letters to ReMax letting them know what Nova Scotians think of the actions of their agent in this matter? Perhaps an online petition boycotting ReMax unless this matter is resolved?

And, if anyone knows the names of the other real estate agents involved, I would love to hear them.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Putting People First?

I received an email from NSACL today, with the following information.

The Nova Scotia government has finally released the long awaited Continuing Care/Services for Persons with Disabilities discussion paper. It's entitled "Putting People First - Working Together to Support Independence and Dignity". 

A series of community meetings have been set up by Department of Community Services and parents and self-advocates are encouraged to attend. 

Not only does NSACL strongly encourage you to review the document and attend a local community meeting, but so do I. 

Please. As family members, if they can't make their voices heard on their own, it is up to us to do so for them. Whether that means attending and speaking on their behalf or attending with your family member, speaking yourself and encouraging them to say what they can, we can't miss this opportunity.

And if your family member is relatively high-functioning, you might just want to give the latter a try. I was amazed at how well my daughter did at one of the housing consultations earlier this year. Sitting at a table without me but where she fortuitously knew one other person, she was helped to put together what SHE needed to say and she did a great job. Not only was it incredibly empowering for her but it seemed to make a real impact on the room.

The Discussion Paper : "Putting People First - Working Together to Support Independence and Dignity"

Schedule of Community Meetings