Elaine Crichton details a new course that aims to create leaders of the future
Life is about choices, and a new course developed by myself and Catriona Rowley (participation and partnerships advisor, SCLD) is about helping participants develop the skills and tools to make choices that can lead them towards healthy, happy and fulfilling lives. Everybody has the ability to be a leader, this is why developing leadership skills and tools that can help individuals with learning disabilities is so important, to enable them to lead in their own lives and have ambition for the future, one in which they have choices.
This ground-breaking course, titled Our Future Leaders’ is now in its third cohort. It was developed by Inspiring Scotland and the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (SCLD) to create a unique leadership course for people with learning disabilities, the only course of its kind in the whole of the UK.
Our Future Leaders aims to support people with learning/intellectual disabilities with the development of practical leadership skills. With this emphasis on practical skills, the course helps guide participants on their journey towards greater independence, while also recognising the learning style and pace needed for individuals. The programme is uniquely tailored, giving participants the opportunity to apply what they learn to their own everyday lives. Over the longer term, participants can develop skills within the community of people with intellectual disabilities that will ensure they are empowered, as a community, to participate as equal and valued citizens, with the full range of rights that other citizens enjoy.
The course covers a range of topics, including communication, confidence building and self-awareness. A range of expert presenters deliver a series of engaging and interesting sessions , covering an introduction to leadership, including colour types, as well as practical skills in charity finance, governance, employability and interview tips not forgetting mindfulness and relaxation strategies.
The course has truly fulfilled the aim of creating ambition for the future with past participants co-delivering current and future course sessions.
A vision statement from a recent graduate helps highlight this:
“My vision is to hope that in an ideal world there are a multitude of free resources available to everyone who needs them and centres have a flexible, person centred approach with members at the heart.
“I enjoy working with animals and I’d like to study psychology and animal behaviour and follow this as a career.”
Overwhelmingly positive feedback has been gathered from previous participants so far. One course participant said:
“The course has really helped me in showing me how to be a leader in my job. Instead of our weekly meeting being led by the staff, it’s me and the other ambassadors who now lead it.”
The course has also helped individuals to become ambitious for the future, of which confidence and communication are key elements. One participant shared how the course has helped their confidence and communication skills on a practical level:
“I have learned to have confidence when talking to new people and I will use this when new customers come into the café and ask me what they need.”
Elaine Crichton is performance advisor, learning disabilities portfolio, at Inspiring Scotland