Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Right now. That's right now. I'm sitting in a presentation room writing my blog. Around me are several agencies which have come together to set up a 'peer training' model of abuse prevention. Teams constructed of two people with disabilities who are trainers and one support person as helper are meeting and working out the details of how they will work together.

To me, this day marks a new beginning. Up until now I have trained trainers to train people with disabilities - those trainers have been almost without exception non-disabled staff people. This is the first time where the trainers learning the training will be people with disabilities. There is an excited buzz in the room as the groups are talking about the roles and the responsibilities involved in the work. As I listen to the voices in the room I hear, as the dominant voice, those with disabilities.

A new day, a new way.

This idea is not mine, I was brought in to help with it. They have taken what I've given and run with it ... really really far. It's exciting to see and exciting to be part of. This kind of transfer of power and transfer of responsibility is a long time coming. And, really, it shouldn't have taken this long.

After all, weren't we supposed to be teaching and supporting people towards self determination and self reliance. Why, then, does this seem so radical to me? Why, then does this surprise so many? All the way along the committee that pulled this together was comprised of both care providers and care recipients. Over time that committee has become a unified group, with a common vision erasing or at least muting the boundaries between - all voices were valued, all voices heard. There has been disagreement and there has been discussion. We all grew as part of the process.

It led to this day.

Thirty five people, mostly those with disabilities, are here learning. Some how to lead, Some how to not lead. Lessons, they both are, in strength. It takes strength to lead. It takes strength to hold back. I'm proud to be here, quietly writing my blog, in a room where change is happening.

And I am quiet.

Others are talking.

A new day, a new way.


Anonymous said...

It must be so exciting to be a part of this process. I admire your restraint in letting others find their voice - that is not always easy. It is like letting children bake - it can be a slow and messy process - oh but the outcome has so many rewards. Better the self determination and self reliance that you mention.

It is good to hear - it always seems, at least in my corner of the world, that the "end users" of a system, or a building, or a service are seldom consulted. Money seems to guide decisions. Perhaps that is why the disabled have not been leading the way in their own issues - the one with the wallet makes the calls...hmmm...so glad to see some good changes. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

"It takes strength to lead. It takes strength to hold back."

And for me it takes an awful lot of knowledge when to do what...

I admire people who can teach that way.


Sheri Franklin said...

As someone who has worked in this field for 20 years, the leaps and bounds that I have seen in the service provided and the service module itself is staggering in just 20 years! I look forward to watching the transitions that come in the next 20+ years and beyond!
P.S. I am vastly enjoying the training in Windsor and look forward to helping the team I am with deliver this oh so important message!~

John R. said...

Love it. I hope that you can confidentially take some of the experiences and learning that you will get from this and SHARE with all of us. Self-reliance and self-determination is so much more than being able to set your freakin" dinner table with the spoon on the right side of the plate. Self-reliance must also include protection, preservation and defense against abuse, bullying and exploitation. Hope it goes very well!!

Dave Hingsburger said...

John R.

On Wednesday the committee meets and there will be lots of discussion about lots of things. The training manual is nearly done and it's beautiful. Plain language accompanied by lots of pictures and colourful graphics - the team that did this did a lovely job. The training finishes today - the practice begins - then the training will be under way. We need to figure out how to make this much more public. Right now I'm still being vague but soon, very soon, it will be much more public. The trainers and helpers that left yesterday were enthused to say the least.

J. said...

Wow - what an amazing day.

Nan said...

Celebration for sure. All at the table. I loved the way you described it. Some learning to lead, others not to.

Andrea Shettle, MSW, MA said...

Dave, will there be an electronic version (PDF or other format) of that training manual? Because if yes, then I would love, love, LOVE to be able to incorporate it into the off-line version of the Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) to be shipped to locations in developing countries where internet access is limited. As semi-radical as the notion of disability led training can sometimes be in developed countries, it is often even more radical in some developing countries (not, of course, just because they're poorer in resources but because they have fewer options for accessing knowledge about best practices elsewhere). This manual could be one great tool for planting a seed abroad. If you can letme know who I would need to talk with to make this happen, that would be wonderful.

I communicated with you at one point a while ago about the GDRL project so you might recall what this is about. But, if you need a memory refresher, more info about the project as a whole is at the link from my name. And you can check out an on-line version of the library at http://gdrl.org --this is similar to, but not identical, to the off-line version sent to deployment sites in developing countries.

You can reach me at my office email in regard to this at ashettle@usicd.org


Jayne Wales said...

Wow what a great way to feel. Such a happening day and a sea change. Another moment really not to be underestimated. 35 people who are now able to contribute genuinely to an agenda of abuse prevention by shared experience, shared respect and power sharing in its truest sense. Well done to whomever created and organised the day.