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2017 EASPD Montenegro conference

Now and Next: The Australian Co-production (co-design) experience with parents raising young children with disability or developmental delays

Dr. Annick Janson, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand [http://www.victoria.ac.nz/cacr/about/people/associates/annick-janson]

Setting an inspirational vision for their disabled child and family is a powerful experience that few parents have the opportunity to develop in the early years. When families do develop strong visions for their children’s future though, there is more ‘energy’ in the system to bring this vision to fruition.

Dr. Janson's presentation described an Award Winning trailblazing 8-week capacity building program for families situated in Australasia and co-designed with 230 families. The families’ voyage begins with a creative mechanism through which they experience transformational vision setting through a novel game-like approach. Families report this evidence-based tool as being an enjoyable and powerful experience.

Such a peer group environment provides families with the support to implement their vision by taking their goals into action. Technology plays an important role in this approach with families working on achieving their goals by documenting their children's progress via an App on their mobile devices designed to scaffold their learning experiences while building their skills and knowledge. Principles of the positive psychology framework underpin the program and resources. 

Participants report that they experience a growing sense of competence to assist their children through their development. They also report having formed deep connections with peer families expanding beyond the program. 

Family leaders are identified throughout the process and are invited to become co-facilitators upon completing a training program. The resulting evidence-based leadership pipeline provides a mechanism through which families can be involved in service design and delivery. 

Alumni families have self-organised into a trailblazing network to continue meeting regularly to stay motivated, positive and focused on achieving goals. Together, they deepen their skills and knowledge by sharing information and strategies with each other. At the outset of their inaugural conference, they have published the first Parent-Professional Relationships Position Statement, a landmark document that went viral in the disability community. This has the potential to be the impetus for families to shape sustainable social change for the sector.

Dr. Janson's presentation was very well received with many European colleagues keen to collaborate in implementing some of this innovation. To be followed! 

Dr. Janson is a co-founder, with Sylvana Mahmic of the Now and Next Network for families raising young children with disability [http://now-and-next-alumni.blogspot.com]