Thursday, January 21, 2010

The flip side of conformity...

One of my cousins had the following as his Facebook status for this morning: "My wish for 2010 is that people will understand that children with disabilities do not have a disease; children with disabilities are not looking for a cure but ACCEPTANCE........93% of people won't copy and paste this."

Well, consider it copied and pasted, albeit not on FB. Tolerance and acceptance can be tricky. There are a lot of different people out there, and in general, people are afraid of things they aren't completely familiar with. The late, great Mitch Hedberg made a joke about that phenomenon, "Some people say 'I don't care if they're black, white, or purple...' Now hold on, we have to draw the line somewhere. F*** purple people!"

I am in the camp that supports purple people, so I was really pleased to see the following two stories. Baltimore Magazine did a write up on the Allied Sports program a few months ago. The program is a Baltimore County School System initiative for high school students with disabilities. The 16 year-old program puts a 50/50 mix of children with physical and/or learning disabilities and children without them on soccer, bowling and softball teams. Eighteen of the 24 schools have at least one Allied sport. The program promotes "sameness," the chance to shine for children who often get lost in the background.

Canada's Parent Central website posted an article on a little girl's ballet class. Normally a common subject, this particular class deserves a second look. Founded by mom Sarah Nixon-Suggitt, it is Toronto's first ballet class for physically challenged little girls. Three year-old Katie Suggitt, who has cerebral palsy, wanted to dance just like her twin sister. Suggitt's occupational therapist Barbara Lynch worked with the dance instructor to modify the beginner's class for Katie and little girls like her. Each class is staffed by older dancers at the school who volunteer their Saturday mornings. "The best thing, the beautiful thing, is this lets Katie be like every other girl," says Nixon-Suggitt. "We know these girls with special needs can do it too. They just do it a bit differently."

(Photo is courtesy of Angelina Ballerina)

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