Register Now! Supporting Community Relationships, Valued Roles & Belonging w/ Angela Novak Amado, Ph.D.

In fully inclusive communities, individuals with a disability label experience friendships and relationships with a wide variety of people, and have valued social roles as community citizens. At the same time, community members have the opportunity to know, befriend, include, and value those who might otherwise be separated or marginalized. While many people agree with these values and the goal of full community participation, many agencies and staff struggle with “how to” support meaningful relationships with community members. A series of two-hour workshops will present stories, examples, and successful strategies learned in various projects across the country designed to support people with a disability label to have more friendships with ordinary citizens, be more fully part of their communities, and expand the number and types of valued social roles they experience. Lessons learned with a wide variety of agencies, with people with a wide range of types of disabilities, will be presented in this on-line series.

These sessions are particularly designed for agencies providing community support, but the ideas presented will also be useful for residential support agencies, families, case managers, and others interested. All are welcome.

These sessions will incorporate and build upon the material in the two “Friends” manuals and Friends Activity Worksheets ( and, which are free and down-loadable. Participants will have actual and specific practice applying the material directly with people they support.

Please join us for the series of two-hour sessions for various audiences and a Family focused session.

Links for Registration are attached, sessions will be recorded, close captioned and posted at the end of the Series. For registration support please reach out to Certificates will be available for registered participants only.

Five two-hour sessions for various audiences and a Family Only session.


    April 28th, 10 am to 12 noon

In this two-hour introductory session, the importance of community relationships and basic approaches toward community connecting will be presented. This session is intended for any and all interested people.

Audiences: DSPs, families, managers/supervisors, executives, case managers, guardians, board members, people who receive support, families, community members, advocates, etc.


    May 5th, 10:00 am to 12 noon - REGISTER HERE (this link will register you for all 3 parts - 5/5, 6/2 and 6/9)

FOR: DSP’s and their managers, from community support agencies/staff, residential agency staff, others interested, advocates and Case Managers / Care Coordinators This session will present three main areas of “how-to” strategies:

  1. successful strategies in planning, connecting, and supporting individuals in having more friendships and community involvement.
  2. How to expand the variety and types of social roles of people who receive services
  3. The role of staff as “community connectors”

This session is aimed at practical application of the strategies. People who attend will leave with concrete ideas to try out for a specific individual who receives services. We will have you try out some of the ideas and then come back to share and learn together.

    May 5th, 3:00pm to 4:30 - REGISTER HERE

Family (ONLY) Session: "How-to" strategies for family members to support relationships between their family members with disabilities and other community members will be presented. Material will be drawn from a project with family members and a manual developed specifically for family members. The manual describes why it is important to promote such friendships, community belonging and membership. Included in this session will be examples of specific exercises to guide users in creating a plan for connecting people. This session l is designed for family members, but the material can also be used by support coordinators, teachers, staff, and people with disabilities to support community relationships.


    June 2nd, 10 am to 12 noon

FOR: People who attended Planning Session II- DSP’s and their managers, from community support agencies/staff, residential agency staff, others interested, advocates and Case Managers /Care Coordinators, guardians

This session is for people who attended the previous “planning” session (II) on the morning of May 5th. Participants will share what ideas they had in the planning session, what they tried or did not have the opportunity to try. We will identify the sources of any success, and the barriers that were encountered in pursuing ideas.

We will also engage in additional exercises about supporting community members to get to know and befriend individuals who receive support. There will be practice about introducing people, making requests of community members, and the next steps to deepen acquaintances and relationships.


    June 9th – 10 am to 12:00 noon

Audience: DSP’s, managers, supervisors and executives who have attended previous sessions II, or II and III.

Those who participated in the previous planning and follow-up sessions will have the opportunity to:

  1. Review the brain-storming ideas and results from sessions II and III
  2. Identify the material in the Friends manuals and Friends Activity Worksheets, which is applicable and can be used in the future to on-going support community building
  3. Identify and apply the ideas in the Friends manual about how to address barriers or problems when they are encountered
  4. Identify the needed agency structures which support and enhance more relationship-building, community connectedness, and valued social roles for the people served
  5. Build upon the ideas in the Friends manual to enlist wider community engagement and support


    June 16th – 10 am to 12 noon

Audience: supervisors/managers, executives, board members

Being an agency that supports authentic community relationships and belonging means both short-term and long-term shifts in internal and external organizational structures. This session is for those with direct and indirect roles in designing and implementing needed structures to realize the goals that: (1) all individuals who receive support have meaningful community relationships, and (2) community members have the opportunity to know, befriend and include citizens with disability labels.

This session will address:

  1. what organizational/structural changes are needed to support more community relationships
  2. examples of how other agencies have implemented these ideas
  3. identification of rule and/or policy changes needed to fully realize community belonging
  4. what supports direct support staff need
  5. what supports managers/supervisors need
  6. ideas to enhance the role of community members in building inclusive communities

Participants will leave with concrete ideas for organizational structures needed to implement these approaches in the short and long terms.