A Guide for Supporting Youth

Michael Peterson and Sharon Murphy


Making the Connection from
School to Work & Community
Some thoughts for Students

Challenges and opportunities

As students, we have great opportunities and great challenges. Yet, sometimes what happens in school and what happens at home and in the neighborhood seem so far apart.

We need the support and assistance of both school people and people at home and in your neighborhood -- family, friends, business people, ministers, and others. These are the people that can help you if we ask. They can help us in getting a job, going for further training or schooling, finding a place to live, and being part of activities in the community.

How can school and neighborhood work together to help us? Here are a few ideas:

People to help--mentors & advocates, peer supporters, circle members, members of organizations

Many people are willing to help us dream and work towards reaching those dreams, but we have to be willing to ask. A friend, counselor, or teacher can act as a "Community Guide" to introduce us to people who might help. We can also learn the skills ourselves to build our network. Together we can both look for resources and people in our community. Some people might be a mentor or advocate -- someone to spend time with us, listen, help solve problems, or help us get connected with jobs and other opportunities. Older students who have been successful can help too. We can also ask people to be part of a circle of support to help us plan and work towards our dreams. Other people might help us get into an organization or group-- a job, a school, or a local club.

Person-centered planning and circles of support

When we ask people to help, we might talk with each person one at a time. But it is really helpful if we can get all our supporters together at one time -- in a circle of support. Our circle can include a lot of people -- friends, family, school teachers, counselors, and more. We meet wherever it is most comfortable -- at home, church, the local neighborhood center, or at school.

When the circle first meets, we may have someone help the group to do a person-centered plan. This allows the group to help us think about our dreams and develop an action plan where people in the group can help us work towards our dreams.

Neighborhood service and work experiences

All neighborhoods have things that need to be done. The school may have a service requirement for graduation from high school or a program of community-based training which allows us to be involved in our neighborhood as part of our school program. This can help us apply what we are learning in school. We can contribute to our neighborhood after school or during the school day as part of our school program, meet some people, and have fun in the process!

What could we do? That depends on our neighborhood. We need to ask and see the needs and possibilities. Some students have done activities like the following:

Helped older people by painting their house or mowing the lawn or just talking (these people have some pretty interesting stories sometimes!)

Worked with a group to make a neighborhood park out of an abandoned lot that had a lot of junk in it

Worked with an organization to renovate a local house -- painting, carpentry, roofing

Planned a neighborhood block party where people played games, listened music, had fun.

The possibilities are endless.

A lot of groups get together to share common interests and have fun together. When we get connected with these, we can get to know people, learn interesting things, and engage in activities that are fun. As we get involved in the community, we will find our lives are better. We will get to know interesting people who can help us when problems come up. Some examples include:

Playing games, exercising, body building at the local YMCA or community center.

Participating in a local basketball team

A male responsibility program that helps young men in the community learn skills to be effective community members.

Singing in the choir at a church

Why connect?

Connecting our neighborhood with school helps us get to know people who can help us. But these activities are fun also. When we get ready to get a job, find a place to live, or go for further training or education, the people who know us can help if we need it. It is what being in a community is all about.

Asking for Help & Support

All of us need help and support from others. We need to be with people to feel a sense of belonging. The psychologist Abraham Maslow says that to really accomplish our dreams, we must build on knowing that we are loved, a part of our community, and accepted as who we are. Yet at the same time, we find it hard to ask other people for help.

We often would rather do without than feel embarrassed because we cannot do it alone. Sometimes we even laugh at people who cannot do things by themselves.

Yet, we can ask. In fact, it requires more courage to ask and accept help than it does if we do not.

We may be afraid that people will not help. Yet, it is clear that people want to help others, including us, and they will if:

We ask (or someone asks for us)
They don't have to do everything for us by themselves
We are trying to help ourselves and learn
They can share in the helping with others who want to help

We all have goals that we want to accomplish and a better life we hope to live. To help us get there, we need the help of other people who can help us learn, connect us with resources, and help us know what to do.

People can help us in many ways: Just be with us to listen, talk, and have fun together; Act as a mentor-- someone to help guide us; Help connect us with others who have the same interests we do or who would value what we have to offer; Come together to help us plan in a circle of friends; Be a friend. We just have to ask and let those who want to help us ask too. It takes a lot of courage--but it is worth the effort.

Dreams for Our Lives

If everything in our life was the best it could be, what would it look like? What are our dreams for our lives and the best possible life? We may think it is silly to dream like this. "It won't ever happen!" we may say. A lot about our society keeps us from dreaming. "Be realistic" people say, yet dreams are what keep us going.The clearer our dreams are the more we know our deepest desires and the more we can head towards our dreams. Maybe we won't make it all the way but we will get farther than we would have if we didn't dream.


1. Let's sit back and think what we would like the most in our lives. Let's forget what we think is possible. WHAT DO WE WANT, HOPE FOR, DREAM FOR? Make some notes or draw some pictures of our best life. Let's think how it would feel, sound, and look. Who would be there? What would we be doing?

2. TALK with our friends or people we trust. We can share with them our hopes and ask them to help us think about our dreams.

3. GET TOGETHER WITH OUR "CIRCLE OF SUPPORT" We all have a network of people who will help us. We can get them all together to help us think about our dreams and ask them to help us.

MAKE A PLAN. To get started, we need to come up with a few steps to move towards our dreams. A person-centered plan can help organize this process. We don't need to do everything at once. Just start. We can be sure of help and support from other people and do the first few steps. Later, we can redo the plan with help from our circle. Bit by bit we will see wonderful things beginning to happen.

Dreams for Our Lives
Let's think about dreams for our life. Make notes or draw pictures. Whatever helps. Think about:

Our relationships -- Who are you with? How do you get along? What do you do?
Our job -- Where are you working? What are you doing?
Where you live -- What does our house or neighborhood look like?
How you have fun -- What do you do? Sing, play an instrument, dance?

Community Guides

For those of us who want to help others dream and have supports to reach their dreams, we need ways to organize and support such a process. A key question is: "Who helps people get connected and who gets the help?" The answer is: Anyone can help and anyone can get the help. We all need such help sometimes, but we especially want to support people who often get left out in our neighborhoods. These often include -- people with disabilities, older people, single parents, and people with criminal records.

When we intentionally help people to gain support from others in our community and connect to the resources of the community, we are acting as Community Guides. People who act as Community Guides may be:

Neighbors who help others as part of their daily lives
People who are paid to help connect others
People who volunteer as part of organizations or businesses (from the Boy Scouts to the police)

Community guides . . .

1. Get to know the neighborhood. They spend time developing relationships with people in the community and being part of groups and activities.
2. Get to know people who want more support understanding their interests, skills, and dreams.
3. Ask people to connect with the person as a mentor, employer, or a person who helps the individual join an organization to share mutual interests or to participate in a circle of support.
4. Help start support and sharing groups of people with common interests, challenges, or goals.
5. Provide support to people in the neighborhood if asked. They might help facilitate a person-centered planning session, for example, or provide ideas to a local church group about how to welcome a person.

What makes a Community Guide effective? According to John McKnight they:

1. Are gift centered. They see people's gifts, strengths, and capacities rather than their problems or weaknesses.
2. Are connected to the community. They are people highly involved in the neighborhood. People know them.
3. Are trusted. People in the community trust them.
4. Believe the community is welcoming. They see the neighborhood as filled with opportunities for people who have often been excluded.
5. Are willing to leave. They can let the person and people in the neighborhood continue without their being involved.

Building Our Circle

Many people may provide help, support, friendship, and access to community opportunities. Yet the truth is we often do not ask. We may have few people who know or care about us. When this is the case we may need some help in building our circle. This is what community guides do.

What is a circle? Marsha Forrest, Jack Pearpoint, and Judith Snow have helped us understand what a circle means. At one point, Judith was living in a nursing home and her health became very poor. She needed help. Her friends looked at who she knew already and how the circle needed to be strengthened. They pulled together a lot of people who worked very hard to save Judith's life.

We all need to build our circle and keep it strong. We can systematically do this using the following steps:

1. Diagram our circle of support. Using the chart on the following page, we write the names of people in different areas of our lives who are at different levels of intimacy. Marsha, Jack, and Judith use the following levels:

Intimacy -- our closest friends and relationships
Friendship -- friends
Participants -- people with whom you do specific things
Paid people -- people we pay to do services for us

2. Consider ways to strengthen our network of support. We want to BUILD TOWARD THE MIDDLE, to strengthen our network of close and intimate relationships. These are the strongest--the people who will stand by us no matter what. We can get some help in looking for opportunities to build our circle.

3. Get our circle together. Even if we have just a few people, we can get them together and develop a plan and a way of working together.

Building Our Circle

One way we can build our circle, and help others build theirs, is to provide opportunities for people to be together and develop relationships. Some of these will occur naturally. Some we will plan.


All of us have families. For some of us our families are great sources of help, fun, support, and caring. We spend time with our family and feel free to ask for help. For others, we may not get along well with our families. Sometimes, we find it hard to ask our families for help. But our families are the first place to start. Who in our families can and will we ask for help and support? In what areas is each person particularly helpful?


Many of us have friends as well. Sometimes we have friends we really trust, with whom we can share and ask for help. Other times we find it hard to ask for help. But our friends often will help if we ask them. What friends do we have who are willing to help us? Who are we willing to ask? In what areas might a person be most helpful?

Mentors & Community Advocates

Mentors & Community Advocates are people who volunteer to spend time with a person to provide help, guidance, and problem-solving, or just to spend time having fun, talking, or hanging out together.

In all communities, there are mentoring programs operated by churches and other community organizations.

We can ask people of all sorts to be mentors in our neighborhoods. These might include: local leaders -- the mayor, city council members, ministers; members of churches and other faith organizations; police, teachers, library workers, and workers in organizations.

When the leaders of the community share their time and lives they benefit personally and they provide a powerful message to the community about including people with disabilities and others who might be excluded from the community.

Building Our Circle

The key to building our circles and the key to building a better community are the same. When we receive help we turn around and help someone else. People who are our peers and who know our struggles can often be our best helpers and supports. They have been there.

Examples of peer supports include:

A person with a disability who has begun to overcome challenges
A student at the university who was recently in high school
A single parent who was previously on welfare and is now working
A family of children with disabilities who has learned how to deal with the "service system" and can help another family
Families who have children who have died through violence or traumatic accidents

A peer supporter can be anyone really -- people who have similar challenges and experiences helping one another.

Peer supporters may help one another meet on a regular basis one-on-one. Peer supporters may also keep in contact by phone. They might go with us to interviews, assist us in getting access to needed services, or just have fun sharing times playing games, eating dinner together, or going to a baseball game. Sometimes peer supporters might get paid for their roles. Other times people simply want to help.

Support groups are also helpful. These might include:

A meeting of persons with disabilities in a local community center
Local networks of families of children with disabilities
Youth groups at churches
Alcoholics anonymous

Often support groups have volunteer facilitators or coordinators who get help from an organization--a church, a mental health agency, or some other organization. There are many support groups in communities.

Building Our Circle

Every community has enormous resources--even very poor communities. For the community to become a better place, it must build on its resources. When we need help from our community, we must identify its resources. John McKnight has developed a way to describe the BUILDING BLOCKS OF A NEIGHBORHOOD that helps us think about how to do this.


People who are interesting are all around us. They have many skills and abilities, and want some of the same things we want. We can't tell who they are by looking at them, however. We must talk to people -- about their interests, skills, experiences. When we do we find out that people are willing to share and have much to share. We first have to ask. We should pay special attention to people who we might think don't have much to offer -- older people, poor people, people with disabilities. We will be surprised!

Who do we know in our neighborhood? What are their skills and interests? Where are the people who could help us with their skills and connections or who have similar interests?


In every neighborhood many associations exist. These are groups of people who come together to accomplish something in which they are interested. Some of these groups are very formal. They have officers and by-laws. Some have dues. Others are very informal clubs. But they offer a great range of opportunities. Some examples include:

Churches and their groups -- youth groups, choirs, sewing circles
Model car building clubs
Bicycle clubs
Boy and Girl Scouts
Sports clubs of various sorts
Political action groups

These groups offer many opportunities -- ways to have fun, meet new people and develop new skills. What groups and associations do we know in our community? What do they have to offer? How does one join them? Which ones relate to our own interests and dreams?


In neighborhoods, many places of business not only provide places for people to have jobs and work, but also provide valuable resources to the community. Many business people are very involved in helping to make the community a better place.

What types of business are there in our neighborhoods?
What resources might they offer us and others in the community? These might include:

A place for people to meet. This might include meeting rooms. The local restaurant may be the favorite meeting place of people in the neighborhood.
Resources for local groups. These might include: copiers, phones, computers.
Contributions of funds to help individuals and the neighborhood. These might include scholarships for high school students or funds to help local groups get programs and activities started.
Jobs for people in the neighborhood. Students may work in businesses part-time after school or as part of cooperative education where they earn high school credit while working.
Training for youth and adults in the neighborhood. Businesses can provide on-the-job training. This could be for pay or simply as an opportunity to learn.


To help us connect to our community, it is helpful to think about our interests, needs, hopes, and look for resources in our community that might help us.

We can use the questionnaire on the following page to help us think about resources in our neighborhood and community.

Building Our Circle

Let's look at our circle chart. Think about ways we can build our circle. Who can we ask? Who would help? Make some notes, draw pictures of people if that helps.

WHO COULD HELP BUILD OUR CIRCLE? A friend, family member, teacher?




People at our church, temple, or synagogue

Business people in the neighborhood

Community leaders or people in organizations

ASSOCIATIONS, GROUPS, AND ORGANIZATIONS. What groups, organizations, businesses, or institutions might there be people who would be willing to help? Where are there people we might be interested in?

Logan Square in Chicago:
One Neighborhood's Experience in Connecting
People with Disabilities to Associations

Logan Square in Chicago is largely Puerto Rican and Polish. It has its share of typical urban problems -- gangs, poverty, etc. Folks at Northwestern University wanted to see if a community initiative could work to pull people at the edge of the community into the center. They chose a "bad" area as a model. This area was picked, also, because it is one of the older city neighborhoods and has an Association of Associations. People in these associations had a rich network of relationships with each other and with many individuals.

The thinking was that if local associations were interested, perhaps local businesses might see people differently. Instead of systems working with systems, we might have advocacy from the community to businesses to help hire people.

The question was: "How do you tell people what you have in mind so as to interest them?" There is no rule. What is critical is to listen to the community. Listen to the language and values of people at the center. Ask: "How does the goal we seek fit the values and language used by people in the community?" Find the values of the community and then fit our goals to them. It will be different in different communities.

In Logan Square a key value of the association of associations was to "be powerful." They wanted to build their constituency of the citizens of Logan Square. And here was the key. We looked at people in the local group homes and asked: "How many of these 47 people are involved?" We found that none were. We were then able to go to the Director of the Association of Associations and say: "These are people you have ignored." She became very interested because we were addressing her own goals. "How do we involve these people?" she asked. And we did not know.

The association does its work via Task Forces. We suggested that they should have a task force on constituency building. She talked to the board. During all this conversation, the word "disability" was never mentioned. We talked about ignored constituents. We did work with her to obtain some funding for an organizer to identify the gifts of marginalized people to bring into community life. On this Task Force, there was no one who knew anything about human service systems.

A person was hired to function as a community guide who was raised in Logan Square. She was the first high school graduate in her Puerto Rican family. She had previous experience managing low-income housing in the area and knew a lot of people. People in the area loved her. Her name was Rosita de la Rosa. She did not even know what a group home was. She went throughout the community knocking on doors getting to know people, going from one association to the other.

Rosita came back to the group and they decided to start working with three people. They began to imagine the possibilities of introducing these individuals to people in the community. EDDY was the first person. He was a very joyful person. They met. Rosita thought about the place where he was most needed was the least joyful place in the community -- the local hospital. She took him to the hospital administration and introduced him exploring a place where Eddy's joyfulness could be used. Rosita spent time with him looking for places where his gift might best be given. Eddy became involved in delivering the mail in the hospital. He would walk up and down the halls giving people mail and sharing his joyful spirit. The administrator said one day that "Eddy is the only person in the hospital about whom he gets called when he is not there. He is very missed."

Mary McConnell describes the impacts, challenges, and learning of this effort in the life of Lorraine, a woman who lived in a group home.

She used to attend church services with her mother. The Episcopal Church of the Advent has welcomed Lorraine to its congregation -- not to a "special" service for disabled people, but as a regular member. When Mary was first asked if she would take Lorraine to church, she was reluctant to take on the responsibility on a regular basis. "Once I met Lorraine, there was no way I could not take her to church," Mary says now, praising her friend's enthusiasm and her genuine ways. Lorraine has been welcomed by the pastor and the rest of the congregation. The Sunday services and other church activities have become a high point in her life (Community building in Logan Square, p. 11)

Rosita was hired by and works for the community association, not a human service agency. This effort has become an ongoing program of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. Leaders of the neighborhood association sees this process as improving their community.

Circles of Support

Many of us have people who help us with various aspects of our lives, but seldom do we get everyone together and ask for their help as a group. When we do, however, the results for everyone can be very exciting and powerful.


The idea of "circles of friends" (or circles of support) was formally started out of the experience of Judith Snow in Toronto. She is a person with a very severe disability who was an active disability advocate. However, she had to live in a nursing home in which she was getting bad care. Things were so bad her health became worse and she was literally in danger of dying. A couple of friends realized this and brought together a whole group. They tirelessly helped Judith to get out of the nursing home and into her own apartment, to obtain money from the government to help pay for her care, to support Judith in the process, and, most important of all, to support Judith in taking control of her life. They formed a close group, continue to meet, and have told their story to people all over the world. Judith called her circle the "Joshua Committee", referring to Joshua in the Bible who led people to surround a city marching with music until the "walls came tumbling down."

Many people all over the country are starting to bring circles together--all sorts of people. In Connecticut, several hundred people have ongoing circles and they have written down some of what they are learning. In Midland, Michigan, around 100 people have circles in that small community.


Us. The circle is there to help us know what we want for our lives and move in that direction and to help us solve problems that get in the way.

We usually start a circle when we have a crisis, a major problem that we simply can't solve by ourselves or because we have some dreams and goals and know we need help.

A circle can be used by anyone, not just people with disabilities. Families can use a circle to help anyone who needs help; or our church; or a local club.


Anyone we want to ask. People often find it an honor and enjoy helping someone else if they can share the load. The more we can get the people together who care about us and are willing to help, the more powerful and fun are the results.

Participants might include: Ourselves; A facilitator (someone we ask to help run the meeting); Friends -- very important!! ; Family; Neighbors; Co-workers; Mentors; Teachers and service providers; Ministers, community leaders, and others.


A circle meets when and where we feel most comfortable. It is good to have it in a place that is less formal and more connected to our home or community. However, it has to be big enough for everyone.

Many times circles meet at . . .

Homes -- the living room, back yard, patio
A church or community center
A local restaurant in the area for special groups
The local library
A recreation center

Circles meet at the time that is most convenient for the members. It is very important to schedule the circle at a time when people can actually come. Most of the time people meet:

Late in the afternoon or in the early evening
On the weekend

This may cause a problem for teachers or human service workers who typically work only in the day hours during the week. With some workers you may need to deal with them in a separate meeting.


Someone will need to help get the discussion started, help people stay focused, and help all members of the group contribute. Sometimes, as "focus" people, we can do this ourselves. However, it is very hard both to facilitate a group and to be concentrating on what we want for our lives. Consequently, most people have a facilitator who can help them do this.

Some facilitators have special training through a workshop or course they have taken. Others are just very good natural helpers and facilitators of discussion. The key is to have someone who cares about us and who knows how to supportively help a group work through issues and develop an action plan to deal with issues.

Facilitators can be family or friends who volunteer their time. They may also work for schools or human service agencies who pay them to do this type of work.


Sometimes we may have few people we know. If we are to have a real circle, we may have to work hard to ask some more people who might help. We may want someone to assist us do this as well -- a mentor, a community guide, a friend, or a family member. For many of us, building these connections and getting people together may be our most important step.

Asking can be very simple. We can say: "I (or a person I know) really needs some help in making their life better. Would you join a group that explores ways to help me (the person)?"

Why do people help? People will help if . . .

they see some way their skills or connections could help
they are not alone; it is part of a group effort

Most people really enjoy being part of a circle. They make new friends. The circle becomes part of their own circle. Circles give people an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life and this makes them feel good.


A circle is not a new name for an agency or school run interdisciplinary planning meeting. What a circle does may be useful to direct the activities of an agency and, therefore, provide information the agency might use to document their plan of services. Sometimes our circle plan will be used to tell the agency or school what types of services we need. A circle member can help us communicate this to a service organization.


A circle is also not just for people with disabilities. A circle is for any of us who need help and are willing to ask for the help.

A circle is not just for people in small towns or the suburbs. People in cities, including neighborhoods that some people call "dangerous," can come together and help one another. We can too.


Getting started involves several steps. It is a bit like planning a party!!

1. Decide who will be our facilitator. We will want to meet with this person and talk about the first meeting. We might even decide to have a meeting of two or three people just to plan the larger circle meeting and help us build our circle.

2. Make a list of who we want to invite. We should think about the people who can help. If we need to "build our circle" we will do this. We can get some help from our facilitator or a few other people.

3. Decide when and where to have the meeting. We may want to talk with a few people about this. Once we get a date and place then we will want to stick with it. Some people may not be able to come but they can come to later meetings.

4. Develop plans for food and refreshments. This can be done several ways but we should keep it simple. For example, we might provide the drinks and ask others to bring snacks of some sort. Our facilitator or a friend might volunteer to coordinate this. However, it can be very helpful to have some refreshments available.

5. Make a flyer or invitation. Like with any group gathering, it may be helpful to make up a flyer or invitation on which we can list our address, phone number, purpose of the circle meeting, and other useful information. Sometimes a map can be very helpful.


During the first circle meeting we will discuss our life and develop a plan with the group. In other words, we will develop our Person-centered Plan. This will be recorded on large sheets of paper so the whole group can see. Later they can be photographed, typed, or simply rolled up so that we can keep them to review later.

At the end of the first meeting, we will set the time and place for the next meeting.


As the circle meets, we will develop ways of attending to business, having fun, and developing relationships with people in the group.

1. Attending to business When the group gathers for a follow-up meeting, the facilitator will help the group review commitments and plans from the last meeting. What is the progress? What got done? What problems occurred? What breakthroughs? What new issues have surfaced? The group may brainstorm ways to deal with new issues or develop better plans for action. As we conclude the meeting we will again set the time and place for the next meeting.

2. Celebrations and parties Circles are not just about work. They are about celebrating success and enjoying one another. A circle may decide to have a picnic at a park, have an anniversary celebration of the formation of the group, or have a pool party. Doing something fun and celebrating helps people enjoy being together while helping us.


Circles can simply help us accomplish some things in our lives we could not do otherwise. Circles do not replace our responsibility for our own lives, of course. We are responsible for learning skills, working hard, developing our own plans, taking care of others, and helping in our communities.

But circles do help us get people together who can help us. When people get together, they come up with ideas and ways to help which we can't do by ourselves and they can't do unless they are in a group.

Some of the things that circles have helped people do include the following:

Find a job
Locate an apartment
Secure a loan
Obtain a refrigerator, washing machine, and other needed household items
Locate a college and obtain financial aid
Meet people with similar interests in the neighborhood
Attended a ball game
Met new people who became friends

And many others.


Having a good circle also requires some real effort. Sometimes we may have disagreements with people. Sometimes people get busy and getting to meetings is difficult. Sometimes the members of the group may get discouraged because the problems don't get solved easily or quickly.

So, it may take work to keep the circle going. But most people think it is well worth the effort. So what do we know about how this happens? Here are some lessons learned from people who have been doing circles:

Directed by the person The work of the circle is directed by the person around whom the circle meets. Family, parents, spouses, and human service people are there to help and support. The person's dream provides the direction for the group.

The person wants help and a life change Circles are for the person. ONLY if the person wants a circle and asks can it be done.

A facilitator is often needed, at least to help the group get started, meet with them periodically, and be available.

Circles are about caring and community If a circle is going to work, people must care about one another. It is impossible for a circle to help a person unless the members respect one another and experience a sense of caring and support themselves. The person who is the focus of the circle will grow in direct relationship to the honesty and commitment of the circle members.

Time for decisions Circles usually spend a lot of time helping a person make decisions about their own life.

Circles go through cycles People may be excited at first and come a lot to a circle. Later, the group might meet less often as some goals are accomplished. But, then something else may happen to re-energize the group. That is okay.

Share the work load It is important that circle members share their responsibilities. Like in any group, if just one or two people do most of the work, the others will be less involved and the most active people will eventually get tired.

Make sure the circle is big enough If the circle is too small, people may feel overwhelmed. Also, the more challenging the problems for a person, the more people are needed.

Circles and services Service providers can be circle members representing their agency. They bring needed resources. However, they do not direct but follow the lead of the circle and the person. In many, if not most cases, the needs of the person will not "fit" the way schools or agencies provide services. When this happens, circle members often engage in advocacy with a service system to get the system to change what they do to benefit the person.

These are some of the lessons being learned about circles of support.

Circles of Support:

1. WHERE, WHEN, AND WHAT TIME will you have your first circle meeting?

2. Who will you invite?

3. Who will be your facilitator and your graphics recorder?

4. Who will bring food and refreshments? What will be served?

5. How will you invite people? Do you want a flyer or invitation?


Person-Centered Planning

As circles meet, we need to think about dreams and develop action plans that harness the skills and resources of the group members. People call this process Person-Centered Planning. This is what circles usually do at their first meeting. However, a person-centered plan can be done anytime. Periodically, a circle may decide to go through the total person-centered planning process again rather than just updating the plan in follow-along meetings.

Person-centered planning is simple but powerful.

Our circle gathers and together we ask and answer questions that help us think about:

How our lives have been and what our lives are like now
Our dreams, goals, hopes for a better life
Our nightmares, barriers, or problems that get in the way
Our own strengths and resources

Needs -- skills we need to develop as well as help we might need
An action plan

Different approaches to person-centered planning use a different series of questions. But they all deal with the themes listed above. Two of the most common were developed by Marsha Forrest, Jack Pearpoint, and John O'Brien. These are:

MAPS (Making Action Plans)

PATH (Preparing Alternative Tomorrows with Hope)

Below, we will describe how to use the MAPS process.

Anyone can have a person-centered plan. In fact, everyone could benefit from a person-centered plan. As a parent or caregiver we might be considering a major change--contemplating a move to another part of the country, changing jobs or returning to school after a considerable time off. As a student nearing graduation, we might be thinking about a long summer off with nothing to do. Or as a business person we might be considering a change in business strategies and would like input from our family members, friends, neighbors, or community.


As we gather for the person-centered planning, people usually sit in a circle in chairs, on pillows on the floor, or at a round table. A flip chart will be at one end of the circle to record in words and in picture drawings what is being discussed. We might have soft music playing that helps set a relaxing tone. We want people to feel comfortable as they arrive. Talking, joking, or showing them around the house can all help. We want it to feel less like a "meeting" than a get-together of friends. This makes it more fun and helps the circle be of most assistance to us.

Two people will often be there to help run the meeting:


The facilitator will help lead the discussion.

The graphics recorder will do the recording for the group. He or she will use colored markers to record what is discussed in the group. They will do that using key words that are said and drawing simple pictures that capture some of the key ideas and emotions. As different questions are discussed and a sheet of paper is filled, the paper is taped up on the wall so that we can look back and remember what was discussed. This helps us think during the planning.

Words and pictures from the group discussion will be organized under each major question the circle discusses. Graphics recording is very important. It gives us a wonderful picture of our plan. But it also helps to free up the creativity of the group. It is also fun. Laughter can do a lot to free up our minds and help us enjoy being together. Sometimes the pictures are just funny and the laughter that results can be helpful.

Our facilitator will usually sit next to us and the graphics recorder in the circle. As we begin the facilitator will explain the purpose of our gathering on our behalf, set some basic ground rules, and ask people to introduce themselves and explain how they know us--the focus person. The facilitator then leads the group through a series of questions about our lives.

The facilitator will be careful to help the group be supportive to us. Even if we have conflicts and disagreements with people in the group, the circle knows that they are there to help us understand our own dreams and to help us achieve them. People are not there to criticize us or tell us everything we ought to do. Rather, a good circle will talk about how they can help us.


The facilitator will always start with us speaking first in response to a question. Our comments are followed by others who know us best. But no specific order is necessary. Our circle shares their thoughts and ideas about us. The facilitator is there for us and will always be checking how we want to proceed. In MAPS the facilitator will lead us through the following questions.

What is my HISTORY? And my PRESENT?
What are my DREAMS?
What are my NIGHTMARES?
am I?
What are my NEEDS?
What is the ACTION PLAN?

Sometimes we might want to change the questions. If so, we should discuss this with the facilitator ahead of time. As we get started, however, most of the time we will want to use these questions that have worked so well with other people.

What is my HISTORY and my PRESENT?

This question helps all the circle members have a common understanding of our life. We will talk about our past -- where we have been, significant events, and problems that affected us. We will also want to blend this into our present. What is going on right now? Where do we live? Where are we going to school? What has been happening with us in school, at work, in our family?

Our circle members will add their views to our history. Often our parents share insights about our past. Teachers may have useful information. Our friends or other family members will have important parts of the story to tell.

By the time we are through with this section, the circle will feel part of our story and we will feel supported and cared for by the group. Our story will be on the paper in words and pictures where we can look back and be reminded of important parts of our life.

What are my DREAMS?

The facilitator will then ask us to talk about our dreams. Dreams are different than goals. Goals are things we know we want to work towards that we think we can accomplish. Dreams are bigger than this. When we dream, we talk about what our lives would be like if things were the best they could be Dreams don't have to be realistic. We may never accomplish our dreams. But our dreams set a direction for us. Too often we get so many messages that kill our dreams. People say: "You aren't smart. You don't have many skills. You have a lot of problems." All this does is to convince us that not much can happen in our lives. But we know that the clearer our dreams are in our minds, the more they become real. So this is the time to set aside what we think we can do or ought to do and simply dream what our heart and mind most hopes for. If we have a bit of trouble doing this, we shouldn't worry. A lot of people do. So we might need a lot of support and help in dreaming. The first meeting might just help us get started. We can come back to our dreams over and over if we need to.

What is clear is this: if we have no dreams, not much will happen in our lives. If we have a dream, the willingness to try to achieve our dreams, and the willingness to ask for help, we will be surprised what will happen.

Once we have shared our dreams, the facilitator will ask other members of the group to share their dreams for us. Our parents, friends, and neighbors will share what they most hope for us. We don't have to accept anything anyone says as our dream for ourselves. However, our circle may help us clarify our dreams.

When we complete this part of the planning process, we often find ourselves excited about what we see on the paper. We often will feel that people really care about us. They have such dreams for us, sometimes dreaming more wonderful things for us than we dream for ourselves!

What are my NIGHTMARES?

The facilitator will then direct us to a harder question--our nightmares. We will talk about how our lives would be if the worst happened that we can imagine possible. This is sometimes pretty hard and may make us and others in the group uncomfortable. However, this question is very important.

Sometimes we find it hard to understand our dreams. But almost all of us know clearly what we do not want to happen -- what we fear. So even though nightmares are hard to discuss, it is critical that we do so. Several important results occur.

First, when we talk about our nightmares, some of their power over us is taken away. Ancient peoples thought that naming an evil spirit took away the control of that spirit. Telling our nightmares is like this.

Secondly, telling our nightmares helps us be more clear about our dreams. If we know we do not want something, then what we do want is the opposite of that.

Third, when we share our nightmares, those in our circle not only understand us and how to help, but they also feel with us. All of us have nightmares and fears. When we share them with caring people, we suddenly have help and support we might not have thought could exist.

We will first share our nightmares with our circle. Again, this may be hard and may take time. Or it may come quickly. The circle will then share their NIGHTMARE FOR US. As people do this, we will again know how people care for us. Sometimes we may have a lot of conflict with someone in our circle. When we find that they actually are very afraid for us and this is shared in the group, this may help heal some of the conflict.

Usually, this doesn't take very long, but it is a critical part of the planning process.

WHO am I?

The facilitator will then ask the group to say one word that describes the essence of who we are. Usually, the facilitator will go around the circle asking each person to give one word at a time until all the words are up on the paper. Even if we are having a lot of problems in our lives we will be surprised how positive people describe us. This part is a welcome change from the heavy feeling we have when talking about our nightmares.


The facilitator will then ask us and the circle to talk about our strengths and resources.

STRENGTHS are characteristics we have that are positive. Often our strengths and the answers to the previous question will be very similar.
RESOURCES may involve people, money, our house -- positive sources of help and assistance that may help us move towards our dreams.

Once again, we will describe our own understanding of our strengths and resources and the circle members will add their own ideas. We will usually feel very flattered by the positive strengths people see in us.

What are my NEEDS?

Then we talk about our needs -- to help us achieve our dreams. Needs are not what someone else thinks we need to do. A family member or teacher might think we need to act better and say so. This might or might not be true. We must agree with the statements being said.

The key focus here again is our dreams. What do we need to do to help us work towards our dreams? What help do we need from others? What resources--money, a friend, someone to talk to?

This is not a time for other people to tell us what to do. Rather, this is a time for others to think with us about how to achieve our dreams. As we talk about needs, we look back at our dreams and nightmares recorded on the paper that is on the wall. We ask: "What needs to happen for our dreams to come true? What do we need to prevent our nightmares from happening?"

Sometimes disagreements may occur during this section of the plan. Parents or friends may not agree with us. Old hurts and arguments may come out. That is okay. Our facilitator will help us and the group to work through these positively. However, this is our meeting to help us decide what we want for our lives. Our facilitator will help the circle members respect our opinions and desires for our own lives.

When we finish this section, we will see the blueprint for getting started in our plan begin to emerge.

What is the ACTION PLAN?

We will then identify:

WHAT will be done By WHEN By WHOM

The reason for having a circle is not only to have people who can help come up with good ideas about what we will do. They also are there to help. So some members of our circle will help us. For example, a circle member might . . .

Talk to a business owner they know about a job opening and introduce us to the person
Go with us to visit a college or university we want to attend
Help us in contacting our physician to deal with a difficulty issue
Gather a group of people to advocate for inclusion in regular classes in our high school

By the time we get to this section, the action plan will usually be pretty obvious. Often, the discussion does not take very long. In other cases, we may have a very difficult problem to solve and it may take longer.

Brainstorming ideas can be helpful -- just throwing out ideas to be put on the paper. We can then prioritize certain ideas and discard some ideas we do not like.

We end with a list of what will be done, an approximate schedule. and assignments for which circle members volunteer to do what.


At the end of the planning meeting, the facilitator will direct people to look back at the paper on the wall and summarize what the circle discussed and the action plan. The facilitator may then ask people what they thought and felt about the planning process. People may share their reactions which are also put on the flip chart paper. At the end, everyone signs the paper. This is a wonderful way to make our plan very personal and give people a real sense of ownership. Plus, it is simply fun to do!


The person-centered-plan is truly a rewarding and fun process. But, like anything else, to get the full enjoyment from the person-centered plan, we must invest in the process. We must be willing to help plan for the meeting and assure we plan far enough in advance of the actual meeting. Those who are our key helpers must also invest time and energy to make the circle planning meeting successful.


A simple part of ending any meeting is to schedule the next one. This is very important. It is very hard to schedule a meeting with a lot of people but is easiest when everyone is already together.

Doing the Action Plan


Working to achieve our dreams is hard work. We will find that sometimes great things happen easily and quickly. A friend might tell us about a job and the person hiring is someone we knew when we worked on a community project, for example. A lot of energy is released by circles and person-centered planning when we work with our circle towards a common goal. We may be so amazed at what happens that it seems like a miracle. Indeed, the circle often looks back over a year or more and so much has changed for the good.

Sometimes it will not be so easy and we will have to be patient and keep working. We will need to keep in touch with our circle and give them support at the same time they are helping to support us. Sometimes we may run into a major barrier that we don't know how to solve. When this occurs we may need to get back together with our circle. The key is for everyone to keep being with one another and working towards solutions.


Marsha Forrest, Jack Pearpoint, and their colleagues have developed a simple process we can use when we get stuck. They call this process, solution circles. Solution circles are process tools in which a group of people can quickly generate ideas for solutions for a specific problem. We begin by gathering our group with a facilitator who agrees to work with our circle and a graphics recorder. There are four sections to this process. Each section is five minutes long.

Step 1: Present problem

We present the problem for five minutes . During this time the group cannot talk at all. We are given a full five minutes with no interruptions. It is not necessary to clarify the problem. Rather, the group listens carefully.

Step 2: Brainstorm

For five minutes members of our group brainstorm ideas and solutions to the problem. As we present the problem, we listen to the group without talking. Sometimes this is very hard. This is a time where the collective wisdom of the group is used to throw out helpful ideas. The facilitator insures that the process is kept short and focused.

Step 3: Dialogue

Now all of us talk together for the next five minutes. We sort out what might actually be helpful. The dialogue is led by us--the person with the problem--with help of the facilitator. The focus is on picking ideas that might help and discussing these. What does not work is ignored. The dialogue focuses on constructive possibilities.

Step 4: First step

For the last five minutes, with the help of the facilitator and the group, we identify a first step and a coach -- a person who is willing to contact the individual within a short time to provide support. The first step must be something that can be done within one week, preferably within one to two days.

Adapted from an exercise and presentation at the Toronto Summer Institute on Inclusion, Diversity, and Community. July 6-13, 1996.


In Midland, Michigan, Tim has had a circle that has met for ten years! They have gotten a lot done. Rather than working in a sheltered workshop and living in a group home, Tim works in the community and lives in his own house with a roommate of his own choice. Tim and his circle get together about every month or so. Last year the circle decided to have a pool party at the local Holiday Inn to celebrate Tim's birthday and how much has happened in his life. That same year, there was a big celebration for all 90 circles that have been meeting, helping people, and having fun for the last ten years. They put together a book with pictures, circle invitations, and people's stories.

Circles are about helping people. Fun, parties, and celebrations are a key part of our lives. Every now and then we will want to look back and celebrate our successes and struggles together -- the big ones and the little ones. When we do this we gather new energy to continue to grow, to care, and to be together in the process.

Guidelines for Facilitators
and Graphics Recorders

Facilitators and Graphics Recorders are very important for effective circles, particularly in person-centered planning. Here are a few guidelines.


Facilitators may receive training through a course or through workshops.
Workshops are available from the Centre for Integrated Education and Community in Toronto. Marsha Forrest, Jack Pearpoint, Judith Snow, and others collaborate each year to offer workshops. You may obtain information from their site on the World Wide Web: They also have many print materials and guidelines for MAPS, PATH, and other tools.

Facilitators work with people to plan the gathering of the circle for person-centered planning and ongoing meetings. In Connecticut, a group of facilitators meets periodically to engage in mutual reflection, learning, and support.

Some of the steps in planning for a circle in support of a person include the following (these are provided for suggestions and not intended to be followed rigidly).

Planning meeting

You will want to meet with the focus person and sometimes also with the family to help them understand what a circle is and what will occur in person-centered planning. You can answer questions and together plan the gathering of the circle. This meeting should be somewhat informal to help set the tone for how the circles will operate.

Conflict and disagreement

It is helpful to discuss potential for disagreement or conflict at the meeting and how this might be handled. The facilitator will want to insure a sense of safety but should also encourage the person to let disagreements and conflicts emerge in the meeting. As facilitator, your job will be to assure the person you will maintain respect for their directing their own lives and for their opinions. However, hidden disagreements and conflicts often can sabotage the action plan that is developed and sap the creativity and energy in the actual meeting. There is virtually nothing that can stifle a productive meeting more than unspoken anger, hostility, or fear.

Building the circle

At the planning meeting you will want to help the focus person identify who is to be invited and how people will be invited. If a person has few circle members and knows only service providers, you and the person may need to work to build the circle. Sometimes service providers and family members can help. A general guideline is that more than 1/2 of the participants should be people other than paid service providers. On the other hand, this could also end up being the central focus of the first person-centered plan. This is a decision you can discuss with the focus person. Either way, the ultimate decision for who is invited should be theirs.

Facilitating the meeting

Your role is to be a support to the focus person and to help set a comfortable atmosphere. Sometimes having soft music playing as people arrive helps set a positive tone. You and the graphics recorder will want to help arrange where people will be, work out where the flip chart will go, and how paper will be put up so people can see it. This should be done either before or as people are arriving.

Once the people have arrived have everyone introduce themselves. Explain the purpose of the meeting -- to form a circle of support for the person and to engage in planning at this first session. You will describe the process that will occur: "We will together ask and answer a series of questions that help John think about his dreams and fears and help us develop an action plan to support him. Mary, our graphics recorder, will try to capture in simple words and pictures the essence of what is being said. This will be an important record that we can use in later meetings to review. It will also help us think about John and his plan in this meeting."

A few guidelines can be briefly presented at the beginning.

The circle is to support the person, not to tell them what to do or have them change who they are, but to help them understand and reach for their dreams

Nevertheless, disagreement and even conflict are OK. The key is that people respect one another. Disagreements can help solutions and new ideas come out. So people are encouraged to say what they think and feel.

Comments should be directed to the focus person, not to the facilitator or group. This is their plan and we are here to help them.

After introducing the session, you can answer any questions and then begin with the first question -- "What is John's history and present?" Turning to the focus person you would ask him to begin. "John, tell us about yourself." Depending on the person, you may have to prompt them. If people have difficulty communicating, this can take a long time. That is okay. Be patient. The story is theirs and their telling of it is a critical base for the group. Typically, you may ask family to add to the person's story from their perspective and then the members of the circle after the focus person has told her or his story.

As the focus person and others speak, attend to how the graphics recorder is capturing what is being said. You may want to check with the speaker to determine whether or not what is being portrayed adequately represents their intent. This can be simply done. "Melinda, does this (point to what Mary has written and drawn) show what you are trying to say?"

As people make statements, it is helpful for you to question them for clarification if needed and to restate the essence of what they have said. Sometimes you will pick up emotions underlying what is said. It is important that these come out explicitly. "Marcie, you seem quite excited when you talk about John getting a job," for example. Or, "George, you seem very tense as you talk about John moving into his own apartment. Could you explain?" These are good counseling facilitation skills in action. The key is to help communication come to the surface in a way that is respectful and helps important issues be dealt with as comfortably as possible. Summarizing what people say or emotions they communicate will also help everyone listen more carefully and give guidance to the graphics recorder.

Sometimes problems occur. Some members may not speak at all. Others may try to monopolize the conversation. Part of the job of the facilitator is to help everyone participate. For members who do not communicate, you may direct questions at them in an easy going manner. On the other hand, no one should sense that they are being forced to talk if they do not want to. For a circle member who talks too much, you may try to easily summarize what they are saying, express appreciation for it, and then shift the focus to another person. On some occasions, you may have to directly request that other members have an opportunity to speak more.

Other issues have to do with conflict. The desires of the person must be respected. However, a role of the facilitator is to support the person in addressing issues and barriers to their achieving their dreams. A parent may be fearful of a person getting hurt and hold her back from getting a driver's license or dating, for example. While difficult to talk about, these dynamics must be dealt with. The circle meeting provides a place where the focus person can have powerful allies. Similarly, the parent may be able to work through fears with the aid of circle members. To avoid dealing with such central issues may assure the failure of the efforts to support the person. Dealing with such issues respectfully but directly has the potential to let loose tremendous energy as new options and possibilities are explored.

You will guide the group through each of the questions. Typically, most of the time is spent on history and dreams. In this context, needs and the action plan often emerge fairly quickly. In other cases, however, more time will be needed.

When you begin on the action plan, use brainstorming to get the ideas up on paper that respond to the needs of the person. Then help the group to prioritize. Assure that commitments are made about what to do, who to do it, and by when.

At the end of the meeting, summarize what has happened, ask people to give feedback about how they feel about the session, and then ask people to sign the flip chart paper. This helps give a sense of ownership and helps people reflect on the planning session itself. Usually, people end up feeling very empowered and positive about the process, even if it was hard.

Finally, help people select a time and place for the next meeting.

As a practical matter of time, you have a difficult job. On the one hand, you want to provide time for sharing, thinking, reflecting, and communication to occur. On the other hand, you must help respect time limits for people. Guidelines that are helpful include the following:

Set a beginning and end time for any specific meeting and stick to it. If you want to change the ending time after the meeting is started, ask the group in the process of the meeting and let them decide.

Do not hurry conversation but do comfortably move ahead. Don't go too slow either.

You can plan to deal with some issues at the next meeting. In a person-centered planning session, you want to try to complete the plan in one session most of the time -- usually no more than 2 hours. But you may find that the nature of the discussion demands you have more time. Find a reasonable stopping place for the group and complete the planning the following session.


You don't have to be an artist to do graphics recording. If you can draw as well as a typical 6-year-old and can write basic words you can be a good graphics recorder. The key skills are: listening, being creative, and having fun.

Use multicolored pens that have both points and broad sides. You want to use broad strokes and write and draw big enough so that people can see. Your goal is to capture the key ideas and to put it on paper for people to use in and after the meeting. Let your drawings and words mix in fluid ways. Most of all, have fun with your words and drawings.

Your recording work has several important functions. These include:

Helping free the minds of the circle members to think more creatively. Color and pictures mixed with words literally help people access different parts of their brain.
To develop a record of the session that can be used later.
To present to the person a colorful, creative picture of their plan that can help produce hope and a sense of fun and adventure.

Doing a person-centered plan without a graphics recorder is a bit like having a birthday party with no cake or candles. You can do it okay but it is not nearly as fun and somehow seems to miss the point.

It is helpful to put the key questions at the top of a new page of paper as these are asked. You can then put your drawings and words under the questions as these are discussed.

As the discussion proceeds, listen carefully and begin to draw pictures and capture key words. Go for the emotion that color can display as well as thoughts and ideas. For example, if someone is talking about being afraid, a fearful looking figure along with red can help capture the intensity of that emotion. If someone talks about being depressed, dark blue does the same thing.

The key here is to let go and let the pictures and words come out. Have fun and relax.

Let the person or speaker confirm that your graphics represents what they are trying to communicate. Sometimes people may have suggestions regarding how to illustrate an idea or they may actually want to draw it themselves. Encourage this. It helps people to communicate in other media and will encourage creativity and ownership of the plan.


We are at the end of this manual which hopefully can be part of an ongoing beginning for all our work in building Community Circles.



Many of the ideas and tools described in this manual were drawn from the following resources.

Forrest, M. Pearpoint, J., & O'Brien, J. (1992). All my life's a circle: Circles, MAPS, and PATH. Toronto, Ontario: Inclusion Press.

Kretzmann, John P. and McKnight, John (1993) Building communities from the inside out: a path toward finding and mobilizing a community's assets Chicago, Illinois: Northwestern University, Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research.

Mount, B., Beeman, P., and Ducharme, G. (1988) What are we learning about circles of support? A collection of tools, ideas and reflections on building and facilitating circles of support. Manchester, Connecticut: Communitas.

O'Brien, John O. (1996) Members of each other: Toronto, Ontario: Inclusion Press.

O'Connell, M. (1990a) The gift of hospitality Chicago: Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.

O'Connell, M. (1990b) Community building in Logan Square: how a community grew stronger with the contributions of people with disabilities Chicago: Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.



Inclusion Press, 24 Thome Crescent, Toronto, Ontario M6H 2S5. (416) 658-5363. FAX (416) 658-5067. E-mail: or 74640,1124 (Compuserve). A small press with numerous publications related to person-centered planning and circles of support.

The Community Place, 730 Main Street, Manchester, CT 06040 (860) 645-3178. FAX (860) 645-3179. An organization that markets numerous publications related to person-centered planning, circles of support, and inclusive community building. This organization also goes by the name of Communitas.

TASH: The Association of Persons with Severe Handicaps, 29 West Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 210, Baltimore, MD 21204. (410) 828-8274. FAX (410) 828-6706. Organization has provided national leadership related to inclusion and community supports of people with disabilities. The Journal is an excellent source of information.


Amado, A.(1993). Friendships and Community Connections between People with and without Developmental Disabilities. Baltimore: Paul Brookes Publishing.

California Department of Developmental Services. (October, 1994) More than a meeting: A pocket guide to the person-centered individual program plan. Sacramento, CA: Author.

Forrest, M. Pearpoint, J., & O'Brien, J. (1992). All my life's a circle: Circles, MAPS, and PATH. Toronto, Ontario: Inclusion Press.

Hoke, K. (1992). Ways of welcome. Manchester, CT: The Community Place.

Ludlum, Catherine (1993) Tending the candle: A booklet for circle facilitators. Manchester, CT: Communitas.

Mount, B., Beeman, P., and Ducharme, G. (1988) What are we learning about circles of support? A collection of tools, ideas and reflections on building and facilitating circles of support. Manchester, Connecticut: Communitas.

Mount, B., Beeman, P., and Ducharme, G. (1988) What are we learning about bridge building? Manchester, Connecticut: Communitas.

Mount, Beth and Zwernick, Kay (1988) It's never too early; It's never too late: An overview of personal futures planning. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council.

O'Brien, John O. (1997) Members of each other: Toronto, Ontario: Inclusion Press.

O'Brien, John O. and O'Brien, Connie Lyle (1992) Members of each other: Perspectives on social support for people with severe disabilities. Natural supports in schools, at work, and in the community for people with severe disabilities. (Ed. Jan Nisbet). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.

O'Connell, M. (1990a) The gift of hospitality Chicago: Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.

O'Connell, M. (1990b) Community building in Logan Square: how a community grew stronger with the contributions of people with disabilities Chicago: Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.

Pancsofar, E. (ed.) (1994). Community connections resource guide. Manchester, CT: The Community Place.

Shaffer, Carolyn K. and Anundsen, Kristen (1993) Creating community anywhere: Finding support and connection in a fragmented world. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Smull, Michael and Harrison, Susan B. (1992) Supporting people with severe reputations in the community. Alexandria, VA: NASMRPD. (Essential Lifestyle Planning).

Weatherow, D. (ed.) (1992) The whole community catalog. Manchester, Connecticut: The Community Place.

Yates, Jack (1980) Program design sessions Stoughton, MA: Author. Contact: 23 Ralph Mann Dr., Stoughton, MA 02072.


Shafik's MAP: Training Video for Person-centered Planning $55 plus shipping from Inclusion Press.

PATH Training Video $55 plus shipping from Inclusion Press. Video designed to be used by organizations who want to use a person-centered process for planning change in their organizations.

Dream Catchers $25 from The Community Place. A video about circles of support focusing largely on children and young adults.

Circles of Support: Building Inclusive Communities $ 88 book and video from The Community Place.

Human Services Systems Reform


New Hampshire Self-Determination Project & National Program Office of the Robert Wood Johnson Self-Determination Initiative for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, The Institute for Disabilities, 7 Leavitt Lane, Suite 101, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824-4724. (603)4320. Organization has many resources that can provide assistance including a focus on supported housing and employment. This project is providing a model for managed human services supports.

Institute for Educational Leadership 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 310, Washington, D.C. 20036. Organization is facilitating technical assistance to state human services reform efforts around the country to build integrated services around families.


Beeman, P., Kehrhahn, M., Pancsofar, E. (1994). Building the foundation for person-directed supports. Manchester, CT: The Community Place.

Blank, M. (1994). Together we can: a guide for crafting a pro-family system of education and human services. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.

Bockstaehl, Eric (Ed.)(1995) Handicap and politics Peter Lang: New York, N.Y.

Mount, Beth, Ducharme, George, and Beeman, Pat (1991). Person-centered development: A journey in learning to listen to people with disabilities. Manchester, CT: Communitas.

Mount, Beth (1990) Imperfect change: Embracing the tensions of person-centered work. Manchester, CT: Communitas.

Peterson, J.M., Ntiri, G. et al. (1994) Detroit initiative for inclusive communities. Unpublished manuscript. Detroit: College of Education, Wayne State University.

Senge, P. (1990) The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organization New York: Doubleday.

Community Building


Center for Community Change, Mr. Keith Holt, NFI Field Coordinator & Community Planning Specialist, 1000 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Washington DC 20007 Phone: 202-342-0519 Fax: 202-342-1132

Communitarian Network, Founder: Amitai Etzioni; Associate Director: Paul Downs. 2130 H. Street, N.W., Suite 714-F, Washington, D.C. 20052 (202) 994-7907 Fax (202) 994-1639.

Fellowship for Intentional Community P.O. Box 814, Langley, Washington 98260 (360) 221-3064. Fax (360) 221-7828.

National Community Building Network
Mr. Ed Ferran., Program Associate, 672 13th Street, Suite 200 Oakland CA 94612 Phone: 510-893-2404. Fax: 510-893-6657.

Partners for Livable Communities, Mr. Bob McNulty, President, 1429 21st Street, N.W. Washington DC 20036. Phone: 202-887-5990 Fax: 202-466-4845.

Pew Partnership for Civic Change, Ms. Suzanne W. MorseDirector145-C Ednam Drive, Charlottesville VA 22903. Phone: 804-971-2073 Fax: 804-971-7042, E-mail:

Program for Community Problem Solving, Ms. Marci DuPraw, Senior Associate, 915 15th Street NW, Washington DC 20005 Phone: 202-783-2961 Fax: 202-347-2161

United Way of America, Office for Community Building, Curtis Johnson, Director, 701 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-2045. (703) 683-7835. FAX (703) 549-9152.


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