We at Vita Community Living Services have been busily looking for a means to develop an atmosphere of 'Disability Pride' throughout the organization. We have found precious few images that we can use and as such we have set about creating something to fill the void. I've been wanting to address the subject of 'Pride in Disability' throughout the organization and have been working diligently to create a year long curriculum. I imagine doing an event throughout the organization once every month. The idea is to give us the opportunity to give positive messages about diversity, difference and disability.
Our Self Esteem teachers have told me that the individuals that take their classes WANT to learn about their disability, they want to understand what their disability means, they want to understand and talk about the stares and the sometimes hostile treatment they experience in the community. It became clear in these classes that people with disabilities 'see' the everyday social acts of discrimination and need a forum to learn how to interpret them and react to them.
As an organization we have committed to the concept of safety. So we need to encourage safety in the larger community but then there is the radical concept of safety in the small inner community of self. Those voices that we use when we speak to ourselves can either be kind or cruel. Those voices can echo negative words about disability or they can learn to speak the kinder words of truth - that we are all different but worthy.
Safety within. Safety without.
So, here is the image that we have created. I present this to you with a great sense of pride - is that irony or coincidence - I've never known the difference.
To explain some of what you are seeing. The sign at the heart of the image is 'together' ... now look in the image itself, on the young boy's tee shirt you will see the braille symbol for people, again ... look ... you will see that a woman is signing 'love'. Any of the ways that you combine these words, they say something important.
What's best for me, in looking at this image, is remembering the discussions in the creation of it. The idea came from artwork that I saw in Edmonton and then grew and changed becoming more and more inclusive with each version.
Hope you like it.
Hope you love it.