This Is What Inclusion Looks Like
I love it when the stars collide.
As I write this post, there is a vigorous (and sometimes murderous) conversation going on about inclusion on my facebook wall.
An idea was touted by a frustrated parent to 'make a parent a hero for the day' by inviting a special needs kid over these holidays.
The idea was greeted with varying degrees of horror - do we have to pay people off to make them act like human beings?
'Put yourself in our place. Would you want someone to be made a "hero" cos they had a coffee with you? It is patronising and will not assist us to be seen as equal,' Glenda says.
(You can read about Glenda's thoughts about Ableism here - a thoroughly recommended read.)
But through the molotov cocktails, I could hear the anguish of people who are isolated by attitudes and geography and disadvantage and disability - we have that in common.
Rewind back to last night.
I went to a friend's house - her son had invited my son over for a sleepover and she was holding a Halloween celebration. I don't see her as much as I used to, primarily because I am using a wheelchair most of the time and her house is built on stilts in our rocky little town, Toodyay. It's harder to get up and down now, but I haven't said much - she lives in the house she lives in. Mine's not particularly accessible, either. But I have noticed that my circle of life is dwindling into smaller circles - a friend who lives down the road is now unvisited, because it is too hard to get into. I have bowed out of a few trips, overseas or to inaccessible restaurants or venues, because I don't want to inconvenience my friends. I'm not terribly distressed by it, but I'm aware of it. And aware that for people with increasing mobility challenges and no support, this means exactly the type of isolation we're talking about above.
I arrive at Su's house, and I see this.
Su's brother has started building a ramp - it's taken him all of two days so far, and he's never built one before. There was no discussion, by the way - Su just matter of factly announced that she had always wanted to build a ramp so that more friends who use wheelchairs can visit.
It's obviously something Su's whole family believes in, inclusion. No issues with my fifteen year old son sleeping over with her lad - no expectation that she would be branded a hero (or some kind of a martyr, or a fabulous person) because a child with a disability stayed over. Just two kids at each other's houses, the way it should be.
I got up this morning, and Su's dog fell asleep with its paw on my footplate and head under my front castor. We talked about friends and kids and life and pool and then I went home. And this, froods - this is what inclusion looks like.