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Fostering Social Connectedness: from concept to action

November 5, 2015

Human beings are social creatures. We rely on others to help us live, thrive and grow.” A part of building a movement centered on overcoming isolation is the important step of moving from concept to action. Action steps involve awareness, understanding as well as tangible outcomes that involve seizing leadership and advocacy opportunities.

On October 15th Kim Samuel lectured at McGill University where she highlighted what she calls the new 3 ‘R’s: respect, recognition, and reciprocity. Using this approach she advances that we can tackle some of the most complex challenges in new and successful, sustainable ways. Building from the 3 ‘R’s as well as insights from the Overcoming Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness Symposium held last October, key organizations and individuals have embarked on a journey to foster connectedness among people around the globe. By tracing linkages between many themes and the ways in which people experience isolation, we believe that the movement can support their voice and solutions to building social connectedness.

On October 16th, over 15 members from various organizations including Synergos Institute, Special Olympics International, TakingITGlobal, and McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development came together for a strategic partnership meeting. The convening was intended not only to strengthen existing partnerships but also to advance clear strategies to grow, broaden and deepen the movement. At the meeting each organization and individual came with a specific set of experiences and expertise that not only helped give life to the discussion, but has also acted as a guiding compass for the vision and next steps of the movement. With a diverse set of voices coming together the discussion moved to the ways in which the movement can capture what is being done and create a common thread that has the capacity to tie everyone together and bring them in. Through this discussion four main focal points emerged:

  1. Youth as a driving force for change: Engaging youth early on means that we are creating leaders in the movement toward inclusion. Youth are the future and will some day become the world’s decision makers. Working with them means investing in a future where social exclusion is unacceptable.
  2.  Creation of a common language: From work to alleviate poverty to inclusion through sport, overcoming isolation needs to have a common language that can be applied beyond the specific or local level and on a global scale. Creating a common language will ensure that people from diverse backgrounds are able to understand and integrate the concept of social inclusion into their work.
  3. Moving from research to policy: Many projects and organizations have worked on research in the area of isolation and social inclusion. A part of moving from idea to action is facilitating ways in which research can become a part of national and international policies and strategies.
  4. Building of social networks: Providing opportunities to connect is integral to the movement toward deepening social connection. Not only because it plays an important role in our desire to connect but because it offers more opportunities to promote social change and give momentum to the movement.

One way in which Social Connectedness will be facilitating the building of social networks, which was officially announced at the convening, is through the hosting of the next Symposium in the Fall of 2016 to be hosted at McGill University in Montreal. The details of the Symposium are still being discussed and planned. One thing is certain: the voices of those who are experiencing isolation and those who have worked to overcome it will continue to be the top priority. Continue to check back as we post updates on this important gathering that you won’t want to miss.