Belonging Matters!: A film about our research findings

The Film – Belonging Matters

Belonging Matters was created to share the findings of the Voices of Youths (VOY) research study, which was focused on learning from youths with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) themselves about their friendships and participation in community life. The film describes the qualitative film-based research findings we collected through 70 hours of filmed interviews from youths with IDD.

Why film?

Film was selected as the ideal medium to communicate VOY’s findings to a broader audience due to its accessibility and ability to resonate with people from diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and abilities. VOY’s community partners and project consultants with IDD, who appear in the film, were involved in every stage of production and approved the finalized version for a wider audience.

The Voices of Youths Research Project launched the Belonging Matters film at a public forum attended by a variety of community stakeholders – from youths with IDD and their families to government officials, researchers, and disability advocates. At the forum, stakeholders discussed some of the ways you can use the  film (and the VOY research findings) to influence policy and practice. For instance, you can:

  • Watch and share the film with those in your network and through social media (using #belongingmatters and #VOY2017)
  • Use the film as:
    • A platform for discussion (with those within and external to the disability community) in the classroom and at team and organizational meetings about how to promote belonging for youths with IDD.
    • A way to show youths with IDD that they can have a voice in research and in the programs and policies developed for and about them.
    • An example of how to begin to implement principles of inclusive, collaborative research which may be useful for self-advocacy groups or teams that include a range of stakeholders.
  • Apply the Framework of Belonging (“Belonging Tree”) described in the film to evaluate current programs, and develop future programs, aimed at youths with IDD.

How do we grow?

As the findings of this research project reach community agencies, organizations, policy makers, and youths with IDD and their famliies, they may influence public policy, organizations, and professionals supporting these youths. The VOY team hopes to continue this line of research by identifying pathways to belonging, from multiple perspectives, including youths with IDD, their families, and the professionals that support them. This framework can then be applied in policy, research, and be used to develop and evaluate programs focused on belonging as both a process and outcome.

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