Using the power of story is one way we hope to create change through our work at Imagine More. Stories inspire people with disability, their families, and allies to dream big and take action in their own lives.
I want to thank the families who generously share their stories and have paved the way for many of us. Theirs is often a road less travelled. Many of the families before us have
- had to fight to get their child included at the local school when people with disability were not even deemed educable
- had to find meaningful employment without support
- found creative ways for people to be supported to live in a home of their own.
Without these families, we wouldn’t have the rich stories to draw from to demonstrate what we now believe is possible. It is through these stories we glean kernels of hope, invaluable ideas, and genuine innovation that help us pursue the good things of life for our family members with disability. To all those before us, I want to pay homage.
One family in particular that inspired my family is Sue and Neil Robertson and their daughter Katie.
I met Sue in 2012 when I was visiting New Zealand (back in the day when we could travel). I was invited to attend a cocktail party Katie was hosting in her own home. Before we set out, Sue shared that Katie hadn’t left her house for many years. Neither had she hosted or attended a party of this size. So hosting this party was a big deal. Needless to say, the party was a success, and Katie was a wonderful host.
Sue shared more of Katie’s story on Day 1 of the Get That Good Life! Conference. Katie has lived in a home of her own for the past 14 years. She is well known by her neighbours and has tasked herself with many neighbourhood roles. The impact of autism has made it difficult for Katie to be understood at times. There have definitely been ups and downs. This hasn’t stopped the family from supporting Katie to live her best life in her home and make decisions for herself.
Katie’s story shows us how a person’s potential manifests when they are given opportunities. It was only because of the strength of her parents’ vision that Katie had the opportunity to show she could thrive in a home of her own. Many professionals thought Katie needed 2-to-1 support 24/7. At different times of the day, Katie is at her best when there is no support. Imagine that!
Katie is a proud homemaker and neighbour. These are two significant roles in her life. Her story has helped me see that people can live meaningful, rich lives regardless of the impact of their disability.
The conference was held during New Zealand’s COVID lockdown, so Sue presented from Katie’s humble abode. This circumstance proved fortuitous in Sue’s second presentation (a profoundly moving story about citizen advocacy). To our delight, Katie briefly joined Sue and made her first appearance on an international conference stage.
Katie’s story is one of many that have helped many of us dream big for our family members future. If we can imagine it, then it is possible.