Programming Connection

Sexual Health Information Project (SHIP) 

Griffin Centre Mental Health Services
Ontario
2012

Required Resources

Human resources

SHIP relies on the work of reachOUT’s staff and Consultants to engage participants who are LGBTQ youth labelled with intellectual disabilities in the creation of resources. Staff, Consultants and the other participants are critical to the resource development process.

To engage in this collaborative resource development in an environment where services are not already accessible to people labelled with intellectual disabilities, it is important to plan for extended time for consultation with youth as well as flexibility in the planning process.

Further, the reachOUT staff has found that when they put too much emphasis on solely accomplishing tasks, Consultants have expressed their disinterest by attending fewer meetings. Where possible, reachOUT staff balances the sometimes-boring (but necessary) activities with work that is more engaging to youth.

In addition to this challenge, many of the people involved with reachOUT have experienced and continue to experience multiple and complex forms of oppression. Many have also been labelled with mental health diagnoses and it was important for staff to set aside time for ongoing and crisis support. Further, it has been a priority for the reachOUT team to engage and advocate with agencies across Toronto to establish stronger referral networks.

Keeping the social determinants of health in mind during the course of the work is important for staff in addressing not only individual but structural barriers to participation, including poverty, housing, employment and mental health. (Click here for a discussion of the social determinants of health.)

Bearing these considerations in mind, reachOUT looked for people with the following qualities and experience when selecting both staff and Consultants:

  • Experience working collaboratively with people labelled with intellectual disabilities and/or members of other marginalized communities
  • Commitment to community engagement of LGBTQ people and their allies
  • Demonstrated group facilitation skills, presentation experience and workshop evaluation qualifications
  • Skills and/or interest in the arts (including music, visual art, film and/or theatre)
  • Knowledge of and personal connections with LGBTQ communities
  • Commitment to creating accessible formats for people labelled with intellectual disabilities
  • Knowledge of both local and provincial services for people labelled with intellectual disabilities
  • Strong commitment to anti-racist and anti-oppression frameworks
  • A trans-positive, queer-positive and sex-positive approach
  • Understanding of critical disability perspectives
  • Previous work experience in the developmental services sector

Staff

Project Coordinator (full-time)
Responsible for coordinating all aspects of the project, including liaising with funders, work plans and timelines, training, budget management, team supervision, mentoring, outreach, group co-facilitation, conference and workshop presentations, curriculum development, fundraising and communication strategies.
 
Project Assistant (3 days/week)
Initiates community contacts and responds to project inquiries, liaises with community partners, co-facilitates training workshops, assists with all project logistics and fundraising efforts and participates in community networks.
 
Social Work Placement Student (2-3 days/week)
Co-facilitates meetings with Consultants, assists with the development of training and outreach materials, provides support and resources to team.

Evaluation Coordinator (as needed)
Designs and conducts project evaluation in collaboration with the team.
 
Graphic Designer (as needed)
Designs all promotional materials for the project, with input from the team.
 
Consultants

Team of four Consultants who are LGBTQ people labelled with intellectual disabilities. The Consultants help to provide direction for the project, co-facilitate trainings, conduct outreach and promote and host community events.
 
In selecting Consultants, reachOUT looked for people who:

  • Had lived experience as LGBTQ people 
  • Had been labelled with an intellectual disability
  • Came from a range of ages, including both youth and adults
  • Represented diverse ethno-cultural communities
  • Were interested in learning more about disability rights and self-advocacy

Because trans people and women are often under-represented in self-advocacy work, the team also prioritized the participation of youth from these communities.

Material resources

  • Art supplies
  • Food for events
  • Travel budget for public transit tickets, gas and/or mileage

Financial resources

In addition to the staff salaries and honoraria for Consultants are the fairly nominal costs of art supplies and food for events. It is important to plan for travel costs, as these were more expensive than originally anticipated. Any printed supplies (postcards, brochures), events (workshops, dramatic presentations) or videos incur additional expenses such as pre-production, production and post production costs as well as distribution costs.

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