Open Society Foundation

Training social service professionals on how to tell their clients’ stories visually, showing their shared humanity, and treating them with dignity.

Istanbul, Turkey & Barcelona, Spain

I cannot tell you how important and amazing this week has been…we can now all ride on the inspiration and knowledge you have provided this week for the rest of the year.
Judith Klein, Open Society Foundation
Director, Open Society Mental Health Initiative
The Situation

Open Society Foundations’ Mental Health Initiative funds non-governmental organizations in central and Eastern Europe, as well as Africa, who work on securing greater rights and respect for people with intellectual disabilities. Every year, they gather a selection of these grantees together for a four-day retreat and intensive training session to build their communications and other skills, to increase their effectiveness in their work in their respective home countries. One of the challenges that these groups face is that their clients are often segregated from society, living in institutions with little developmental support – in effect, their humanity is devalued. It is even easier for mainstream society to forget them as they are “out of sight, out of mind.” As these groups work toward deinstitutionalization and integrating their clients back into society, they need to humanize them and reframe how government officials and citizens view people with intellectual disabilities in their respective cultures -- as people with the same hopes and dreams, and day-to-day joys, like meeting friends at a café – as your own brother or sister.

Our Role

Resource Media, along with professional photographer Ami Vitale, was hired by Open Society Foundations to provide training in visual communications strategy, storytelling, photo essay best practices, website development, infographics, and presentation skills over the course of two week-long grantee retreats.

The Impact

Resource Media continued to work with a selection of OSF grantees after the training sessions as they produced new visual narratives about the impact that community-based housing and services have on the people they served. We worked with grantees as they developed new websites, brochures, fundraising cases for support, presentations, annual reports and other storytelling vehicles. The stories have empowered the people profiled – the real heroes of this story – at the same time as they have reframed how people view institutionalization, helping push campaigns for more community-based housing forward.