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Michigan Disability Rights Coalition is a disability justice movement working to transform communities.

Working together as equals on a specific project offers a kind of laboratory for individuals to practice a variety of leadership skills without having to assume a formal role as “leader”.

Within the group the peer members build relationships with each other based on cooperation rather than a chain of command. They participate together in conversations about their experiences as members of a shared social/cultural group, or perhaps as people who share similar values.

As peers work on a shared project they talk to each other about various issues, they may identify barriers, analyzing information, develop and take action, and consider the outcome of the action. During this activities member of the group become accountable to the task and to each other. They may experience conflict and the necessary conflict resolution. Some will learn basic organizing skills of making cold calls, building partnerships, speaking with the media. Others may find an outlet for already existing skills – writing, art design, hospitality, bookkeeping. Many will move from telling their personal story to articulating a social justice/social change issue, all skills of a good leader.

This shared experience can increase self-esteem, self-confidence and self-awareness. It can also assist some individuals to articulate the voice of the people, a necessary skill for a visionary leader.