In October I had several conversations with Michelle McClure, director of AbilityOnline.org and am excited to hear they are retooling their online community. Here are blurbs from their website:
Ability Online is a free and monitored online support community that links kids with disabilities or illness to other kids and adults who care. In a password-protected environment, we offer monitored topical discussion threads, email and chat facilities, and games and activities where kids can come together and just be kids. Then, when they are ready, health information, peer support, and opportunities for skill development are just a mouse click away. Ability Online also offers private e-communities to off-line support groups which can benefit from the extended access of an online facility. This is particularly helpful for organizations whose outpatients are restricted by geographical barriers.
Ability Online is an extraordinary and absolutely free Internet community. Here, young people with disabilities and illnesses connect with all kinds of possibilities that address their needs as curious, growing citizens of the planet. They meet and chat with other people like them in a virtual world that transcends boundaries and barriers. They make friends, get tips from mentors, and freely participate in an atmosphere of collaboration, companionship and support. And this remarkable community also provides many benefits to parents, family members and others who want to make a difference in enabling and enriching the lives of those they know and love. What Ability Online is not is a highly trafficked, public online area, where anyone can come and go and chat and boast and bully… and engage in all those dubious behaviors the Internet is accused of breeding. Ability Online is available 24 hours a day and is monitored by caring, responsible volunteers who share in the dream of a place where worries are set aside, heartaches are healed, and good things happen to those with hardship in their lives.
The over nine year old website technology will be overhauled in December and the bulletin board and chat tools greatly expanded and streamlined with the help of a substantial programming contribution by Momentum Advanced Solutions Inc. I suggested adding the ability to tag or label content so that users can search for specific threads, such as for particular hospitals, deceases etc and that users have a profile area where they can share more about themselves if they wish to. Similarly over the next month or so they plan to setup a Family Advisory that Michelle invited input to. I see a natural connection between parents and children connecting via the web and family presence and advisory initiatives and knowledge exchange in hospitals. For further information and to contribute to Ability Online networking or fundraising, please contact: Michelle McClure, Director of Program Development and Member Services, Ability Online, Tel.
416-650-6207, email: michelleATabilityonline.org