Lived Experience work deserves more than being limited to a center-stage speaking engagement that only happens once a year.
This is an invitation, it is not inclusion. This is speaking. This is sharing.
This is a singular time-limited opportunity.
Yes, stories empower.
Yes, stories cultivate paths to connect.
Yes, stories can embolden us to act.
How often do we limit stories to a highlight instead of a centerpiece? How often do we forget the true purpose of storytelling? And how often do these life-changing stories walk out of rooms and measurably influence the outcomes of lives?
The inclusion of Lived Experience needs to move beyond storytelling and into the co-creation of impactful work. By threading “lifeworld“ knowledge into efforts, we can effect lasting change. Stories are a vital component of work, but storytelling should not be the sole foundation we fall back on.
We should be intentionally developing with lived experience central to creation, implementation, and sustainment. Those with lived experience should be in every room. Speaking perspective into every conversation. Guiding the work from the lenses of their lives, so we can use our hindsight to prevent pain. And those with lived experience should be valued as Experts in their experiences.
Until efforts center perspectives in all aspects of the work, the work will not reflect the countless dimensions that makeup the human experience. We must expand our inclusion practices and offer meaningful opportunities to enact lasting change.
We must not limit anyone to being nothing more than a story. Those of us with lived experience desperately want to change the world for the better, and not just one story at a time, but one person at a time.
I am More than a Story.
And so are you.