When members of CLBC’s Vancouver Community Council gathered recently to plan their work for the years ahead, they couldn’t think of a better first project than identifying the many resources, or assets, that exist for individuals and families in the region. Council members include self advocates, family members, professionals from service provider agencies and business and community leaders.
“Particularly, we want to create a mapping tool that will provide self-advocates, families and community organizations with an efficient and accessible way to locate services and resources in Vancouver,” says Derek Mcquillen, Chair of the Vancouver council.
The idea of an asset-mapping project emerged during a workshop facilitated by CLBC’s Self Advocate Advisor Jessica Humphrey. “When we went around the table and got everyone’s input. There were some common themes that came up,” says Derek.
Three primary guiding principles emerged: providing opportunities for personal growth and development; focusing on person-centred processes; and connecting services to strengthen communities. The council chose to focus on asset mapping because it supports each of these principles.
Asset mapping is a process of gathering information about the strengths and resources that exist within a community. Once these strengths and resources are gathered and shown in a map, people can more easily access them and also see how to build on these assets to address community needs. Assets could include physical spaces like schools and recreation centres, as well as people, organizations and programs.
The council is focusing on community resources that support eight areas for a high quality of life. These domains, which include interpersonal relationships, personal development and rights, are areas that CLBC is also asking self-advocates about in a survey project taking place across the province called Include Me!
The council has set a three-year timeline for the project and created a subcommittee that will work on the mapping process and report back to the council as a whole.
“We’re not thinking we can do it on our own,” says Derek. “We see the importance of networks and partnerships. The process is going to connect a lot of stakeholders by bringing people together around a table.” The council plans to engage CLBC, the local school district and the City of Vancouver, which has its own educational resources on community asset mapping.
The council is committed to making the process inclusive and accessible. “We’re thinking about how self-advocates can be involved and play a key role in the design. We’re learning how to get ideas across, not just through talking but also images, physical activities and any other way that lets everyone participate actively and meaningfully,” says Derek. “It’s exciting to learn how we can make information accessible and understandable for everyone.”
Self-advocates will be involved in testing, providing feedback on navigation and researching potential platforms for the map, such as GeoLive which was created by UBC Okanagan.
Although there is much work to be done, Derek is confident the results will be worth it, “Having a tool where people can easily look for particular services and resources, and not feel overwhelmed or daunted by the experience, will be a huge benefit for the community.”
Other Mapping Projects in B.C.
Created by the Family Support Institute, this is the province’s first comprehensive and searchable online disability resource database. FindSupport BC houses more than 1,000 governmental and non-governmental resources in almost every region of British Columbia.
This map allows users to share and learn about the positive employment experiences of self advocates in B.C. and also includes stories from employers, support workers, and family members.