The importance of positive relationships and community engagement in terms of rehabilitation will be the topic of the first symposium of the Interdependent Network (IN).

Health and rehab professionals and support workers will gather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in October to exchange ideas in order to change lives for the better.

Patti Flaherty, Executive Director of CONNECT, has been involved with the IN since its 2008 inception. CONNECT was invited by IN organizer Dr. Al Condeluci, CEO of Community Living and Support Services (CLASS).

“Rehab is typically focused on a person’s independence, whereas social capital is all about interdependence,” says Flaherty. “So social capital is really about taking rehab to the next level.”

Based on the results of an international study conducted by the IN examining the community engagement of people with disabilities, which CONNECT participated in, symposium participants will exchange ideas, energy and encourage positive change. The symposium is sponsored by a grant from the Milbank Foundation.

“Social capital is one of the founding principles of CONNECT,” says Flaherty. “Typical support services don’t pay attention to just how important positive relationships and community involvement is to a person’s life as part of their rehab. What’s life about, though, besides equitable relationships and being involved in the world?”

The symposium is scheduled for Friday, October 25 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two additional symposiums will be held in the US with the Milbank Foundation grant

Flaherty, who will attend the symposium on behalf of CONNECT, says further funding is being sought in order to hold similar events in Canada.

For more information and to register to attend the symposium, log onto

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