Building a team is a practice that holds importance in all communities and cultures. Thus, whether you speak French, English, Swahili, or are “non-verbal,” this phenomenon of people coming together, sharing in a goal, and creating a team is possible. However, although it may be achievable, it takes time and commitment from the participants.
At Imagining Possibilities, we understand the importance of creating a process to help guide the evolution of our Leadership Teams. Our Leadership Teams consist of a group of community members with cerebral palsy who have found their role and purpose in the creative process. We use a developmental coaching model to build the capacity for team members to work together with adult or youth participants in a mentorship capacity.
Additionally, through sharing their experiences, they are able to create a positive and educational environment where other AAC users can learn new ways to let their inner artist shine. To develop such a team, a strong bond between the Leadership Team members is integral. This bond can only be created with trust and cooperation. This is why during our workshops, we do not refer to activities as “just playing and having”, there is a also meaningful work being done. Therefore, when the members of the Leadership Team show up, they know that it is time to stretch themselves. Indeed, they are ready and eager to do so.
Building and Expanding
The creation of a team starts with engagement. Thus, the new participants of the Imagining Possibilities workshops must be willing and ready to engage in the sessions. However, a large part of this step involves helping the participants feel comfortable. This involves showing them they are in a safe, non-judgmental space. Once the participants are engaged in the workshops, the next step is to focus on building a relationship between participants and getting a commitment to return weekly.
This process of building a Leadership Team can be done with AAC users everywhere in different contexts. It is not necessary for everyone who engages with Imagining Possibilities to become part of a leadership team. We also run workshops for creative engagement with different participants. For those who do want to take this step, we find that Imagining Possibilities Leadership Teams grow the capacity of our movement to create wider social, personal and systems change.
We have already traveled from Toronto, where the original Leadership Team resides, to Belgium. Now we have gone to Hamilton where the creation of our emerging Hamilton Leadership Team takes place. Our mission is to help in the creation of as many Leadership Teams as we can so people who are AAC users get deeply engaged in evoking ideas, metaphors and stories. Also, to mentor the young AAC users of the future, have fun, and get to work!