Roles are a very big part of life, even though most of us never think about what roles we have and how instrumental they have been in bringing opportunity, experience and personal growth into our lives. If you consider your relational roles you have such as parent, partner, daughter or son, sister or brother, uncle or aunt, niece or nephew, grandchild, cousin and friend you can begin to appreciate the sense of identity and connection these roles provide. Throughout your life you may have had many work roles some paid and unpaid, casual, part-time or full-time. More than just a source of income, these roles helped you mature as person and refine your skills. They also took you into the world and enabled you to meet and learn to connect with different people. Many of your roles may be in the past but perhaps some of the people you met through them are still in your life as professional contacts, friends or a partner. As you were able to meet more and more role challenges and learn new skills your self-image and reputation with others likely grew as well. Other opportunities may have come your way as people got a sense of who you were and what you could contribute. In this way valued roles can have a very positive influence on developing our skills, enhancing our image and connecting us with others.
Crafting valued roles for a person with disability is extremely important if they are going to enjoy the same opportunities that most of us take for granted. People with disability can be at risk of having very few or no valued roles if action is not taken to support them into meaningful roles. An individual may have some relational roles and be a much loved son or daughter, brother and sister or grandchild but beyond those they may only have a few passive roles that are not ascribed much value by society, such as service user or recipient of care. These later roles don’t provide opportunity for personal growth, new learning, social connection or developing opportunities, only valued roles can.
Valued Roles for All: The Keys to a Good Life from the The Better Practice Project, South Australia.