Thursday, June 26, 2008


Summer school begins today. Six years ago I went to Susan Tough with the idea of creating something a little different in the summer. Training mixed with appreciation. Thank you mixed with learning. Direct care staff work so hard and often feel unappreciated by the very agencies that rely on them. Direct care staff also often feel that they need more training, more information to do a good job. Out of those concerns, expressed directly to me in my role as consultant to agencies. I proposed something radically different.

Two four day classes. One"Behaviour Self" on understanding and dealing with problem behaviour. One "Sex, Sexuality and Sex Education" on, well, sex, sexuality and sex education. The classes would be comprised of 4 days and run Thursday/Friday Thursday/Friday. We start the class at 9:30, take an hour lunch, end at 2:30. It's a shorter day, but it's summer school. That's school that happens in summer. It's supposed to be a little more relaxed. I don't shave for summer school. It's supposed to be SUMMER.

When I first proposed the idea to York Simcoe Behaviour Management Services, I wasn't sure if there would be an audience for the idea of training for information with hours that leave room for summer fun. Well, six years later, we're still here and still doing it. It may seem that this means easier classes for me too - well the hours are good - but every time I sit down to teach I need to have pared the workshop down to what's really important. Not a bad thing to do.

Over these summers I've met some amazing people. What I didn't realize was the effect of the classes on me. Normally I'm into a place, do a lecture, then on to the next place. I get no real sense of the people in the seats. At summer school there are always connections made, between my self and students and, of course, between the students as well. It's a tremendous experience. Because I'm always reminded about the strength, abilities and compassion of those who work here in the various systems.

I need to be reminded that there are whole whacks of people who quietly come to work every day - unsung heros of the community living movement.

So, I'm up getting ready, going through my notes. And finding a song beginning to play in my head.


wendy said...

Wow! Where do I sign up? "Wish you were here" takes on a whole new meaning!

Dave Hingsburger said...

I should have said the classes run in Barrie - a short drive from home.

FAB said...

This is wonderful Dave! Jeane Clarke said "people's needs are best met by people whose needs are met," too often we forget that and the direct support professionals are used, abused, left without appropriate tools and then get blamed when things don't go well.
I believe most staff who work in this field do so for great reason's (it certainly isn't money though) and they should be honored and supported, for when they are supported they are more prepared to provide support.

Belinda said...

Well, here's my salute to the Unsung Heroes within our agency and others.

We rightly focus on the people and families we are here to support and doing our best at that, but I fully appreciate the people who work where rubber meets road; managers and their teams. In fact, unless we appreciate and honour what they do, no one gets good support.

I'm glad that a very fortunate few will be refreshed and renewed in their time with you. It sounds like such a party! I wish I could be there.

Veralidaine said...

Nice! I'm excited to hear how the "summer school" goes.

Kimlmar said...

I was at your recent presentation in Butler. I am the rehab services coordinator at a sheltered workshop. I have held this position since Feb.'08. One of the largest issues I have been dealing with is inappropriate reactions by staff members. They seem to feel that it's OK to hug, kiss, etc... with clients. I have spoken with them several times. It seems to be reducing but one woman in particular is a real pill. When I got back from your presentation, I spoke to the staff about some of the things you had spoken about. She had the audacity (or idiocy) to make the comment "But what about their mental age?" I wanted to throttle her!

Sorry for this being so lengthy...I bought several of your books but haven't found what I'm really looking for in them. I don't know if you remember (in Butler) a woman in the audience stood up and said somethin like "Well if we don't hug them, who will?" I LOVED your reaction and answer. (and I think I developed a crush on you at that moment) :)
Could you tell me if any of your books have something similar in them? Stating No kissing, hugging, "honey", "sweetie", etc... by staff.
Again, I apologize for the length of this but I hope you can point me in the right direction.

Thanks so much!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Kim, the ethics of touch training is a training for staff on boundaries and addresses touch, relationships, pet names etc. It's a dvd and a book, that's probably what you are looking for, it's available through

Anonymous said...

Kim, you can get a copy through the HCQU, we have it in the lending library.

John R. said...

amen......I think this is an awesome thing to do for the unsung heros of which you refer....they so appreciate fun and relaxation! add some education in there and you will be inspiring, teaching and modeling what needs to be done much more in our field.

thanks for doing this Dave.....I might even see if my Exec. is interested in doing a similar you do these only for York Simcoe? Please let me know....


Dave Hingsburger said...

john, no I do these elsewhere. I used to do them in august in other parts of the province but it turned out that it was a bad time with vacations. so if you are interested drop me a line at and we can talk. we can tailor something for you - no problem.

Robin K. said...

As someone who works to support individuals in a residential group home it is so nice to know there is someone who appreciates what we do! Thank you for your kind words.

New Haven, CT USA

Susan said...

Ah Dave, It WAS a party! Thanks for bringing back the memories...

I took your first Sex, Sexuality and Sex Education six years ago at the Barrie Event Centre and fell in love - with your perspective and your approach - with you! Your mention of “connecting” took me right back there…

I was an insecure "newbie" to the field. (I took 35 pages of typewritten notes because I knew so little. I had to write down EVERYTHING. I still refer to those notes from time to time and am glad I have them.) I loved every exhilarating moment of every single class. It was nearing the end of the final class though, that I remember the most. You needed someone to read a story. Your eyes, for some unexplicable reason, fell on me.

“Susan, will you read it for us?” I was honoured. My knees were shaking a little and part of me was silently screaming, “Run! While you still can!”

You handed me the book, pointing out where I was to start. I found my place at the front of the class, and I read. I read it for you , Dave. I read it for your class. I read it for every person with a disability whose life I touched and hurt and for every person with a disability who has touched my life and healed my hurt.

When I was finished, you said, very seriously, but with a smile, “That was very well read.” Then you told me I could keep the book as your thanks, and that if I brought it to you after class you would sign it for me. I have a lot of “Dave Hinsgburger” books now. Some of them are signed. Most of them have been read by several other people. But the one you signed for me that day has a special place in my office. And that one never gets loaned out.

I’ve never forgotten that story. I’ve never forgotten that class. I’ve never forgotten what you did for me that day.

And the bonus? My thirty-five pages of type-written notes.

Incidentally, as you well know, I went back to take the counterpart, Behaviour Self a few years later. Those two workshops were the best investment of time I have ever made in terms of working with and relating to people with disabilities. And the bonus? I got to know you.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that I have ever said this.. but I wish I could go back to summer school :)