“The Connect People Network (CPN) is an independent, voluntary, charity organisation which is led by people with extra support needs, and which promotes their rights around friendships, relationships and sexuality. The aims of CPN are to support
· social opportunities,
· choice in relationships,
· access to sex education, and
· access to sexual health services.
The CPN grew out of the Irish Sex Education Network, a charity which was set up in 2002 to act as a forum for professionals who were advocating for better sexuality education programs and policies in disability services. In 2009, a strong group of self advocates became involved with the Irish Sex Education Network, and based on the principle ‘nothing about us without us’, the organisation changed its name and core activities. CPN is now an advocacy based organisation representing people with extra support needs, their families and circles of support.
Regarding terminology, the group agreed that the term ‘mentally impaired’ or ‘intellectual disabilities’ should be changed to ‘people with extra support needs’. Claire Adams said: ‘The term mentally impaired is insulting and like saying handicapped or retarded’. Ryan Johns commented that: ‘Calling people mentally impaired is just not nice, it’s ignorant. Disability is not a disease. We are very good at some things. We just need extra support with some things.’
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The CPN would like to acknowledge the support of St. John of God services in releasing some of our committee members to work on the CPN.