Our focus in this meeting was crystallizing: identifying the seeds we want to plant through the multiplication courses, the prototypes of which we will test in 2015.
Some Network members observe that the path to inclusion grows steeper as they bring their learning from the project into their work lives. A deeper understanding of inclusion reveals more conflicts between practices that serve inclusion and common practice, as well as more areas in which person-centered work is poorly supported by the organizations and systems people rely on.
- Listening from a deeper level surfaces how much that people have to say about what they want in their lives and the kinds of support that work best for them. This not only identifies new capacities we need to develop, it also reveals how much we have not known about people.
- Greater awareness of people’s gifts, capacities and interests indicates how much our communities could benefit from their active participation and how much more our organizations could do to support their engagement in community settings.
- The power of active collaboration with people with intellectual disabilities highlights the number of opportunities missed to involve people in organizational decision making
Our organizations and their supporting policy and funding systems tend to be better at doing things for groups of people with intellectual disabilities than at assisting individuals to live in their own homes and participate fully in community life.
Many of the structures and roles that brought us to the point where we can see a better future cannot take us into that future. Efforts to change current service arrangements have generated conflict for some network members.
Some members have found reason to question their own assumptions and reconsider their roles. They have reacted to this by reconstructing their story of their work history in light of their deepening understanding of inclusion.
This can mean creating space for others to act, stepping back and letting go of the urge to control the details of every initiative while continuing to offer a supportive presence. It means making time to listen and assuring that others have time for reflection and thinking.
Other members, having tried reform within current structures, now question whether those structures can ever support the necessary change. There is an important point of strategy at stake here. Recognizing that the “nothing about us without us” principle requires the active involvement of people with disabilities in steering change, it is critical to engage people in the most potentially fruitful work.
The extent of change we need to create is one thing. The way to go about making change is another. People can’t be given marching orders for the path to inclusion. Commitment to the values of equality and inclusion and to developing the openness of mind, heart and will are necessary. There is no manual of arms adequate to control the effort, we have to make the way by walking it together.
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