Community partnerships are an integral part of most advancements within the disability field. Past Parkland CLASS partnerships have included working with aboriginal groups and tribal councils in the Canadian Arctic and involvement with service provider networks at a regional and provincial level in Alberta. Parkland CLASS has also partnered with a wide array of non-disability organizations at a provincial, and national level all in support of activities and initiatives that advance the status of disabled children and adults.
Parkland’s international activities are no exception when it comes to developing strong community partnerships. However unique social and cultural realities often exist and sometimes there is a lack of strong national disability organizations and networks. Therefore, Parkland CLASS may look elsewhere to develop partnerships with community organizations or smaller regional disability groups.
In Argentina, for example, Parkland CLASS has supported the development of several new parent groups and self-advocate organizations. Parkland has also developed formal relationships with a number of larger regional and national groups including:
The Asociacion AMAR Desarrollamos Capacidades, is a service provider that has been in operation in Argentina for 30 years. This family-directed organization provides direct supports to disabled children and adults, and it delivers education programs for individuals who work in the field. In recent years, AMAR has sponsored a number of conferences including the first Iber-America International Conference on Disability. Conference participants were drawn from across Latin America, Brazil, Spain and Portugal.
Establishment in 1894, the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina is one of the longest operating NGOs in Argentina. AMIA is very well respected for its broad mandate which includes supporting a wide array of social issues. AMIA has a separate department dedicated to disabilities and it sponsors an annual international conference on disabilities with participants drawn from across the Southern Cone nations of South America.
Cottelengo Don Orione
The Cottelengo Don Orione, a Catholic religious order, operates the largest network of private institutions in South and Central America. In Argentina, the Cottelengo Don Orione has been involved for 80 years and currently operates 17 residential institutions, which accommodate disabled children and young adults. These individuals are often described as the most vulnerable and “Forgotten Ones”. In recognition of his life of dedication to the disabled, Don Orione was Canonized and received Sainthood from Pope John Paul II in 2004.
Parkland CLASS maintains that understanding and respecting unique cultural and social diversities, and maintaining strong community partnerships both inside and outside of the disability field are positive and necessary steps in advancing the status and rights of developmentally disabled children and adults throughout the world.