Posts tagged ABLE
A Thank You from ABLE

Submitted by Heather Parks

A shout-out to Sobeys Fenelon Falls for generously underwriting refreshments at our recent "Building a Circle" workshops, held in collaboration with Community Living, March 19 and 20. The workshops were geared to those interested in enabling people living with a developmental disability to live their best life in our community. It's so encouraging to have the backing of our local businesses.

Heather Parks

ABLE (Access to Better Living Experiences)

Fenelon Falls

Workshop to Help Families Build Circle of Support - Part 2

Submitted by Diane Engelstad

Two afternoon workshops hosted by Community Living Trent Highlands, and Fenelon Falls-based ABLE, are set to enable families of persons with disabilities, as well as workers in the field, and local friends with big hearts, to get a taste of what life can be like when you build a truly inclusive community.

Called Building a Circle, the workshops on March 19 and 20 will guide participants to proven ways to connect people, and encircle a person living with a disability with lasting relationships upon which they can rely.

The workshops will be led by sought-after speaker Rebecca Pauls, Director of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), an acclaimed Vancouver-based social enterprise that partners with families and people facing social isolation to mobilize relationships and leverage community assets.

Building a Circle organizers are hoping the workshop will help families ensure their loved ones with developmental disabilities can have a secure future.

TUESDAY, MARCH 19 will focus on the work of community building by support workers and community connectors, and is directed towards career support workers and agency staff.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20 will focus on the crucial role of family and friends in fostering community and creating a circle for their loved one, and is directed towards family members, friends, and informal community support.

Both workshops take place at St James Parish Hall, 7 Bond St. E., Fenelon Falls, 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. The event is free, but space is limited. Anyone interested in attending one of the workshops, or both, is encouraged to register as soon as possible, by calling 705-743-2412 ex. 550. For more information, go to, or call Heather at 705-878-2824.

Workshop to Help Families Build Circle of Support

Press Release submitted by Heather Parks

Jeremy Engelstad is a golfer, a swimmer, an extensive traveller, a cord-wood stacker, a guitarist, a gutsy singer, a skier, a church member who carries wine and bread to the altar, a brother who likes to make his younger sister laugh, a voter, a cyclist, a biker (strictly on the passenger seat), a pool player, and, in recent weeks, a pall bearer at his beloved grandmother’s funeral. He is able to do the things he does with just the right support (and he will be forgiven as he smiles innocently at the “purists” while moving the white ball for his next billiards shot!). He takes his place in his local community and beyond, and his parents, Alan and Diane Engelstad, couldn’t be prouder of their young man.

But they also know that Jeremy’s life as he knows it could come apart without them as his caregivers. That’s why they are looking forward to March 19 and 20 workshops in Fenelon Falls called “Building a Circle.” The free event features sought-after speaker Rebecca Pauls, Director of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), an acclaimed Vancouver-based organization that helps families mobilize relationships and community assets for their family member. The 2-day workshop is a collaborative effort between Community Living Trent Highlands and ABLE, a Fenelon Falls-based family network.

“Parents of children with disabilities carry on the responsibility of taking care of their children into adulthood.” says Diane Engelstad, ABLE co-founder. “But adults, regardless of disability, deserve to live fully as citizens alongside everyone else, and aging parents should be allowed to take up pursuits they didn’t have time for during their child-raising years.”

There are often too few hours in the day, and too few financial resources, to tackle all the challenges, including long-term financial planning, or creative life-planning beyond supervision, a minimum requirement. And if tragedy strikes in the meantime, and someone with disabilities loses a parent or both, the gap is filled by a remote crisis placement, often in a new community far from the familiarity of home; often in a nursing home with dementia patients.

“If families come together to help each other out,” says Engelstad, “we can help our loved ones live their best lives, right here in this community.”

“Building a Circle” organizers are hoping the workshop will enable family members, as well as workers in the field, and local friends with big hearts, to get a taste of what life can be like when you build a truly inclusive community.

“My son brings joy every day to the people he knows and meets. I’m really excited to get started on Jeremy’s “circle of support” because I know everyone will gain, not just him.”

“Building a Circle,” takes place at St James Parish Hall, 7 Bond St. E., Fenelon Falls, March 19 and 20, 1:00 to 4:30. Although participants may attend both sessions, March 19 is directed towards support workers and agency staff in the Developmental Disabilities field, and March 20 is directed towards family members, friends, and informal community support. While the event is free, registration should be done as soon as possible, at 705-743-2412 ex. 550, as space is limited. For more information, go to or call Heather at 705-878-2824.

Featured Event - Information Session with ABLE

Submitted by Jim Armstrong on behalf of ABLE

Do you have questions about income and financial planning for your supported family member?

ABLE (Access to Better Living Experiences) is hosting an information session with Graeme Treeby at St. James Parish Hall, in Fenelon Falls. Taking place on Wednesday, January 16th, from 7 pm to 8 pm, Graeme will be answering questions about ODSP, RDSP, Henson Trusts, and other financial assistance and planning programs. All are welcome!

There will also be an opportunity to arrange a personal follow-up.

Graeme Treeby, whose daughter has Cerebral Palsy, has dedicated his career since 1993 to helping families navigate the financial planning complexities of someone with disabilities. He is part of an alliance of expert financial, legal and tax services focused specifically on providing support to the special needs community.

ABLE is a family-driven support network based in Fenelon Falls.

ABLE: Families Helping Each Other

Submitted by Diane Engelstad

You may not know me but I’m famous in town: I’m Jeremy’s Mom.

Anywhere I go with Jeremy within a surprisingly wide radius of Fenelon Falls, I’m struck by all the people who greet him or ask him how things are going. I think Jeremy has a way of bringing out the best in people, and a knack for facilitating a good moment in their day. But I also know how lucky we are to be residents in a welcoming and inclusive corner of the world. I tell people all the time that our move to Fenelon Falls ten years ago has been great for Jeremy and our family, because of the way Jeremy is respected for who he is, and included in all Fenelon has to offer him.

Which is why it became important, as Jeremy left high school and joined the adult world, to find others in the area who are also grappling with what full citizenship looks like for their family members with intellectual disabilities.

Families tend to bear the lion’s share of support, and with this in mind, a few of us formed a new local group. ABLE, which stands for “Access to Better Living Experiences,” brings families and community allies together to consider what needs to be done to assist each person with intellectual disabilities in our area to live their best life.

Most adults would not be happy with a life organized for them strictly around supervision. As adults, we expect to take care of our needs, follow our interests, hone our abilities, participate in community life, and develop friendships on our own terms. I know that’s what Jeremy would like too, but he will need the right support in order to achieve his own level of independence and satisfaction. There is no cookie-cutter solution or government “program” that can make this happen. Everyone is unique.

It turns out that “Family Support Networks” are springing up elsewhere in the province too for similar reasons, and ABLE was able to access a little funding to help our group get off the ground. (We hope to have a website soon.) ABLE, still a small group, meets once a month in the parish hall of St. James Anglican Church to talk about employment or volunteer opportunities, resources, and strategies around specific, individual needs. It sure is nice to connect with others familiar with the challenges of everyday life.

If you are supporting a family member or friend and would like to join us, we would be delighted! For information about upcoming meetings, please call me at 705-887-7169, or Jim Armstrong at 705-887-9755, or send us an email at