Conversation on ‘moments of inclusion’ sparks aha’s


‘Which way are you facing when you come to work in the morning?’ Doug Cartan asks developmental services workers
Thursday May 23, 2012 — Michelle Strutzenberger

After he finished talking about the power of “moments of inclusion” with a group of developmental services workers, Doug Cartan called on a woman raising her hand to share her insights.

“She says, ‘I never thought about this before, but the next time I escort this person in a wheelchair into an elevator, I’m going to make sure that I turn her wheelchair so that she’s facing the door out.

“ ‘In the past we’ve been going in, and I just keep the chair facing the back.’ ”

It was the kind of momentary a-ha that Doug, an Ontario-based consultant working primarily with Community Living Ontario, loves to see. He says he feels these are the flashes of insight that can help move our society forward in a great way when it comes to being more inclusive.

He shares of another instance where a developmental services worker said that as a result of hearing his message the next time she goes out with the people she supports, she will make sure everyone has their purses and wallets, not pencil cases and baggies.

“I’m just shocked. I’m going, ‘That’s what we’re talking about; respect, dignity,’ ” says Doug.

“Can you imagine going to Tim Hortons and pulling out your baggie? And then we wonder where these values (of disconnection) come from, and we wonder what change needs to happen.”

For the past three years, Doug has been traveling the province speaking with developmental service workers about the power of their roles. He notes their influence is so tremendous on the lives of people who have a disability, and yet they don’t appear to have any sort of connective body through which they can consider their work and how to do it differently and better.

His key message is that the change we all seem to be seeking when it comes to inclusion happens in a momentary experience between two people, including between a person who has a disability and a developmental services worker.

“That experience,” he adds, “is so affected by (the worker’s) awareness and their sensitivity and their creativity. . . and which way are they facing when they get up in the morning and come to work.”

If people are facing the things that really make a difference in someone’s life, not just the laundry, for instance, but relationship development, belonging and looking at what skills could be learned this week or month, then that’s how we will create the experiences that make for rich and meaningful lives, says Doug.

Do you have a story to share about the “little things” you’re doing or you’ve seen your colleagues do to change the life experiences of people who have a disability? We’re interested to hear. Please contact michelle(at), or call 800-294-0051, ext. 27, to set up a brief telephone interview.

More stories on this subject will be published to Community Living Leaders in the coming weeks. 

Feel free to comment below, or e-mail michelle(at)




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