Emelia Perandersdotter is from Eskilstuna, Sweden. She works in supported daily activities for people with disability in a carpentry workshop, where people make things which are sold in a shop in the city centre. In 2015 she heard about a new program starting up which was about preventing violence for people with disability. The program (called VIP in Sweden) was about standing up for yourself and being true to yourself – it sounded almost too good to be true!
Emelia was trained and ran her first Swedish VIP program in 2016, here is what she says about it:
I got my first taste of working with the material, and it was an amazing experience! It was truly enriching to watch people grow into a group and little by little opening up into talking about important things, often things that nobody had ever talked to them about before. Seeing feelings of self-worth, knowledge of personal rights, insights and recognition in the experiences of ones peers, change people’s views of themselves is an amazing thing indeed! I spare no words when I declare that becoming a VIP leader is the best decision I’ve ever made in my working life! I’m now holding my sixth VIP group, and I cannot imagine a time when I would ever choose not to.
Emelia says that the times she really remembers are when participants have told her afterwards how the course has changed their lives, and the way program participants view themselves:
How they now can say what they want instead of trying to figure out what is the “right” answer to give, how they have made new choices, choices better for them, based upon what they’ve learnt.
Emelia is also pleased to have watched the program spread to many other places in Sweden, and pass the border to Norway, and feels proud to be part of something as powerfully empowering as VIP!