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History and Strengths to Draw On. Part One: Chris Lee on Michael Kendrick’s Recent “Inspiring Possibilities Through Innovative Leadership”

June 30, 2010

Michael, Mitch and the Dalai Lama

“Inspiring Possibilities through Innovative Leadership” 

With Michael Kendrick and Mitch Loreth

 Overview by Chris Lee

 On June 7th and 8th, Spectrum’s ‘101 Friends Support Network Project’ hosted Michael Kendrick and Mitch Loreth to present a workshop on best-practice supports and leadership.  If you’ve been following the newsletters over the past few months, you’ll know that Michael is an innovator in thinking about how to support people to meet their needs.  Over the two days we spent with him, we were challenged to think about what it means to offer individualized services and how to deepen our individual capacity for leadership within our practice as service providers.  Below are some of the main themes Michael touched upon:

History and Strengths to Draw On


One thing Michael reminded us on the first day was that the Community Living Movement was, and continues to be, a response to the overall social devaluation of people.  We’ve inherited a sad history in which people were institutionalized, government sanctioned eugenics (controlled-breeding) programs existed, and basic human rights were stripped from people, not to mention other abuses.  And even though institutions have been closed down in B.C., many people are still segregated within the community on a daily basis. 

Despite these challenges, we have many strengths and innovations to draw on.  The concept of Person-Centredness, for example, reflects a dedication to the idea that every individual is worthy of having his or her dreams and wishes listened and responded to.  There is immense value in this message and we can see its effects in tangible things such as individualized planning services, supported employment, more inclusive school settings, and the spread of people-first language.

Social Role Valorization (SRV for short) is another theory Michael mentioned.   In some ways, SRV is connected to person-centredness, and the guiding principle behind it is that there are basic social roles that everyone needs to fulfill in order to be accepted.  To be a loving partner, a stalwart friend, a dependable colleague, are some examples of socially-valued roles to which we typically aspire.  When working within a SRV framework, one of the goals is to identify what roles are meaningful to the individual being supported and ask ourselves, ‘What can we do to support him or her achieve them’?  It means asking, “What are the best ways to support this individual’s potential to grow?”

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