The changes we want to see as people with disability take their rightful place in the world is often made in small but potent increments. Flashy change is impressive, but faithful, small steps toward better lives and more possibilities may win the future.
Anjali Dada lives this small change effort in her work as Founder and Director of Soch Learning Center in the Punjabi city of Jalandhar. She and her husband Anuj have been studying the ideas of Social Role Valorization and Person-Centered work for number of years in the life of their own son and their family, as well as in their work at Soch. They combine curiosity, passion, and thinking things through in their approach, and have been open toward the kind of change that matters – thoughtful, incremental, and stepwise. They humbly refer to their change work as “baby steps,” but we know different. They began by taking a long hard look at their vision statement at Soch, which of course has great power in guiding and directing the future.
The re-fashioning of a vision from a “remediation focus” to a “valued lives” focus is actually a profound sea change and serves as a model to Anjali and Anuj. Combining the lessons their teenaged son has taught them, and integrating the SRV themes, they realized that the goals worth working for (for each of us, including people with disability) are fulfilling, independent, and valued lives. That is hardly a baby step realization. It required that they take a long hard consideration of their assumptions, that they challenge them, and that they take profound but simple action which will pave the way toward future change.
Like a true foundational change, new actions are already building. For example, they have recognized that in order for Soch to fulfil the promise of their vision, they need to begin weaving that purpose into every aspect of their work. The name “Soch Intervention & Rehabilitation Center” conveyed both a medical model image, as well as the notion that they worked to remedy disability. The newly renamed “Soch Learning Center” conveys growing and building competencies, the high bar of a developmental approach, and an approach that each and every one of us can related to. So, if you hear Anjali and Anuj refer to their change agentry work as “baby steps,” remind them to think again. These foundational change efforts will, indeed, change the world.