The Coaching Approach: We are not Experts

In the Community Broker Process, we often find that we need to coach individuals we work with and well as the community in order to make full participation possible. We are very intentional about using a coaching approach versus a consultant or professional support. Why - because we realize that we are not experts with a "bag of tricks" that we use to help full participation happen. We do not have standard answers to questions about how to include people with disabilities. When we work with organizations they are the experts in their program content and we have to work along side them as a coach to learn what supports might work best for the person with and without disabilities to make full participation possible. As individuals we work with try new activities or go to new places, we respect that we may or may not know what they need in order to feel comfortable with new situations. We have to ask and get to know the person in order to coach them. We have to spend time with the person in order to know the best ways to coach. Is it using encouraging words? Does the person need to see and visit a place a few times before they are ready participate in an activity? Do we need to be sure that the person is introduced to other people in the activity so they get to know each other? If you think about it any time anyone starts a new activity they need some coaching to become familiar with the activities and the other people involved.

Organizations that we have worked with also see us as coaches rather that experts in disability. For example, we have recently started to work with a young man who is deaf and uses American Sign Language. We are not experts in sign language, but we are learning and will be coaching staff at the Nature Center to get to know him so that he can volunteer there. He is a young man who while he uses sign he is also good at figuring out how to communicate. He is actually our coach in this situation.

Frankly, The Arcadia Institute staff have experience working with people with disabilities and have learned how to support people; however, in the Community Broker Process we are coaches expanding individuals abilities to participate in the community as well as enhancing the communities abilities to welcome, support and respect anyone who participates in programs. We coach people with and without disabilities to learn together how to support one another.