Saturday, December 13, 2008

Employment First: Enlarging the Circle of Partners

While doing some Internet research recently, I came upon a poem written by American Poet, Edwin Markham. This poem is very short but packs a powerful message. It struck me how fitting this message is for agents of change in the disability and employment-first movement. Markham’s poem is called Outwitted and I have included the text below.

He drew a circle that shut me out–
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took him in.
Who is he (she)?
In our employment-first cause, it’s the people who need gentle and not-so-gentle persuasion. It could be a legislator, government policymaker, vocational rehabilitation counselor, social worker, or a parent or family member. It might be a community rehabilitation agency executive, program director, or direct service staff. It could be an educator, residential provider, psychologist, or mental health professional. It might be a business owner, company executive, human resources director, operations manager, or employment supervisor. And yes, it could be an individual with a disability who does not believe in his or her own employment potential and perhaps fears getting a job in the competitive workforce.
The real work of employment-first advocates is enlarging this circle of supporters and creating effective partnerships. And it is going to take a variety of strategies to achieve better results. This includes, but is not limited to, new or enhanced policies, public education, rebalancing of public resources, retooling job roles for disability support professionals, staff development training, transforming organizations and their administrative infrastructures, business marketing and development, and infusion of promising practices such as customized and supported employment.
All said, we need to work together to enlarge our circle of supporters. And when we run into the well anticipated obstacles, we need to remember to draw a "bigger circle" to take the challenger in!
Happy holidays to all of my readers!
Don Lavin


Blogger MaryAlice said...

Don, hoping you are having a great time with your family, your new family, India, and most of all your heart, your mind, your senses, your being present!

Who is "he" in the poem - we all are --- it just depends what action we take at what moment!

Merry Christmas, MaryAlice

8:02 AM  

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