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MAPs and PATHs -

A Family Perspective

by Bryn and Clark Fortune

As often happens, unexpected blessings occur when we step out and try new things. As a result of a professionally motivated educational experience, our family wound up with a fresh look at ourselves in an affirming, revealing process called a MAP.
Bryn is the director of the Michigan based Parent Leadership Program-Early On. In an attempt to understand the MAPS and PATHS processes, she attended a facilitator's workshop put on by Jack Pearpoint and Marsha Forest. A MAP is a process that a creative facilitator can use to bring out the dreams and fears of individuals (or groups), create an affirming focus on the strengths, gifts and uniqueness of that individual to reach out for their dreams, and take steps to avert their fears. In our experience, two points seem critical to the accomplishment of a meaningful MAP. First, a MAP can only change your life if the individual makes a personal commitment to the action steps created in the MAPS process. Second, the facilitators must be incredibly respectful of the power of this process. Without this deep regard the possibility of 'MAP abuse' exists. The only way to avoid this potential is for the facilitators to experience the risk and discomfort of their own individual MAP. We believe this is the only way one can create the understanding needed to allow the discomfort to run its course, the fear to be replaced by courage, and the nightmares to be replaced by dreams.

After attending the facilitator's workshop, Bryn was so impressed with the process that she signed up our entire family to attend another MAP opportunity, the Toronto Summer Institute. During that time, we completed a family and individual MAPS.

The experience was powerful, risky, and at times very uncomfortable. In the generation of our family's MAP, our two daughters each gave their heartfelt dreams and nightmares. Both of our children have significant challenges to their physical health and the youngest daughter has "differing abilities". Relative to other children their age, both have unique perceptions of the world, life, and spirituality. As parents, it was very sobering to hear the girls discuss their health fears, and exciting to hear their dreams of college, boys, and future children.

Lindsay's (our youngest, at the time twelve) nightmare was about losing her gift to communicate. Her dream was of a huge white mansion with servants, a chef to cook her special diets and make them palatable, an indoor pool, a lake and ski boat in the rear, and a multiplicity of automobiles in the garage. Kalli (our older daughter at fifteen) dreamt of her own space, a loft in a high location. Later, as our daughter's own MAPS were generated, we found that Lindsay's principle desire for a white mansion was to house the homeless, and Kalli's desire for a loft was to have a safe haven where she could rest, be supported and worry-free.

Bryn's principle nightmare was the hell of surviving the loss of her children to physical illness. Her dream was to be connected to a vast circle of friends. Clark's nightmare was one of isolation, without the support and love of his family. His dream was to develop our family's shared sense of faith and spirituality.

All of these feelings were powerful, very uncomfortable, and risky to announce to a group of people, even if those attending the MAPS session were family and friends. The courage to articulate those things that you fear, the permission to kick back and dream of what might be, and the acceptance of support from those in your MAP circle, are all liberating and stretching activities. As a personal development tool, the MAP process had shown its strengths. As a family it allowed us to think about and communicate some important feelings and information we often neglect in everyday living. Each of us felt blessed to have had this opportunity and experience.

As a family, we often pull our MAPS out on the living room floor and speak to which action steps we have accomplished and which ones we are still working towards. We have moved closer to our dreams! The clarity and hopefulness that the MAPS process brings forth is an incredible gift. We would encourage any family given the opportunity to participate in a MAP to seize the experience. It can truly change your life.


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