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Those who create new pathways to inclusion have chosen to attend to a call from the future. Now, too many people with disabilities lack the opportunities, accommodations & individualized assistance that will make it possible for them to choose to participate fully in the life of their communities. Changing this demands creative work by people with the courage to join in discovering new ways.

Those of us who gathered in Sesimbra have many different roles. We are advocates, family members, teachers, researchers, managers & organizational change agents. We are linked by the various parts we play in New Paths to Inclusion, but our commitments to inclusion express deeper interests that arise from our own personal & family lives & from convictions formed in our work lives. We aimed to draw on our whole collective experience of inclusion to inform the project’s next steps.

We came together at the time when the project begins to turn from a primary focus on gathering knowledge to a focus on developing & testing ways to reliably share & extend what we have learned. Taking time for shared reflection at this turning point gave people who have been engaged in different aspects of the project the opportunity to support each other in making sense of our collective experience. Our purpose was to deepen & enrich our personal & collective knowledge of pathways to inclusion by listening to one another’s reflections on experience, clarifying our own contributions to the work of inclusion & sketching the application of our learning to the three areas of project focus:

• Transforming the structure & culture of services to increase the capacity to support inclusion in a person-centered way.

• Connecting to community life in ways that offer people opportunities to act as contributing citizens.

• Creating learning environments where interested people can co-create inclusion by engaging in common projects where everyone shares responsibility. The project is designed as an exploration of Theory U, a way to guide social innovation through shared observation of the social field, attention to the highest future possibility in that social field, & learning to actualize that possibility through rapid cycles of prototyping. Accordingly, we guided most of our time together with practices drawn from Theory U. For a better understanding Theory U & a guide to the specific steps in the practices we tried, begin with a visit to www.presencing.com.

To find out more about the event in Sesimbra, please click here.