RIST and Keystone Human Services International share a common core set of values when it comes to assisting people with disability to lead dignified lives marked by belonging, freely given relationships, personal growth and richness. This shared commitment led to the launch of Keystone Institute India in 2016, a values-based national training institute to facilitate broad-based approaches to elevating the possibilities for people with developmental and psychosocial disability to lead full and rich lives. These first four years have led to real change in not only mindsets and attitudes, but also changes in practices and actions that have changed individual lives and transformed organizations.
Keystone has purposefully kept their own staff small, as their strategy has been to build strength and competency across India through the development of Communities of Practice. Mentoring and coaching to develop masterful teachers in idea sets, as well as masterful implementation has led to both a strong national collaboration of leaders as well as a regional and state collectivity committed to working together and separately for change. For example, the community of practice in Bengaluru has launched a Family Facilitator Circle with local expertise in using new inclusive planning tools such as PATH, Personal Futures Planning, and others.
One of the areas that Keystone and RIST are passionate about is that institutionalization of people with disabilities in segregated facilities must be resisted, and that community-based services must be developed in conjunction with public and private organizations which share that commitment. Besides providing consultation and training across India on creating high quality residential service, Keystone has joined with The Hans Foundation, The Government of Uttarakhand, and Lehmann Hospital to develop two small-scale community homes embedded in a small community. These family-style homes are for women with developmental disability who lived for years, abandoned, in a government institution. This project has demonstrated, in the first 6 months, exceptional success with measured changes in life satisfaction, individualized support, competency levels, and autonomy and decision-making. The freedom and citizenship these women are experiencing shows the benefits of this type of service not only to the women, but to the community that has been enriched by their presence.
Keystone makes sure that the ideas are translated into action, on the societal level, the community level, the organizational level and the family/ individual level. After all, they teach powerful idea sets which people need support to interpret and use. Organizations and individuals from across India are comparing action strategies both through a Summit held last December, as well as through the publication of a website called Jhalak झलक, which is an illustrated compendium of strategies for both individual and organizational strategies.
Keystone and RIST agreed early on that all of our activities together need to build capacity and will effect lasting change. This goes well beyond just training. Partnerships with government are a part of strengthening the fabric of the support network across India to elevate and safeguard the lives and wellbeing of people with disability. Formal partnerships with both the National Trust and the Government of Uttarakhand have been established as a foundation for this.
Leadership development is another important strategy to develop lasting change, and Keystone has focused a great deal on cultivating leaders and master trainers across the country. As well, strong collaborative relationships have been developed amongst the networks of leaders. It also greatly involved in the stewardship of social role valorization or SRV.
Keystone Institute India takes the work of developing a more inclusive Indian society as a serious responsibility and holds that responsibility with great care. They share with RIST a belief that people with disability have a great deal to teach society about how the world can ‘work’ for everyone.
Photo Credit: Sujata Khanna Photography for KHSI