He walked on skinny legs with sharp bony knees. His body swayed slightly as he made his way along. He wore small, dark, sunglasses and smiled broadly as he spoke. He and his friends were dressed casually but carefully as they crossed the road in front of us. They were all laughing. Their voices, some freshly broken, slipped in through the first early spring cracking of our car windows. Where they were coming from and where they were going to didn't matter. What was important is that they had come as a group, they were going as a group.
Their journey was ample evidence of 'the journey'.
A mere decade or two ago the idea that a boy who walked with an accent would walk equally with those who had straight legs was simply not thought. He'd have been out somewhere in a special class, his only option hanging with others who have cerebral palsy. He'd be the one that typical boys would point typical fingers at, the one who's walk would be aped, mocked, derided. He'd not have been at the center of the group, he'd have been on the margins looking on. This is a boy, now with two communities. This is a boy with choices. He walked with determination, unnoticed by others, but plainly visible to those of us who know.
We know his walk, the one he made with his friends, was made possible because of those who ...
Parents took on a system that would 'other' their child. Parents sat in meetings and listened to why their kids didn't belong and, though they listened, they didn't give in. Parents took a belief in their child's ability and transformed it into a movement that would demand equality. Parents who stayed awake nights. Parents who wrote letters in the dawn. Parents who worked tirelessly, without end, without even sometimes, hope. Parents who would gift their kids with a different future. They did this.
Kids with disabilities took opportunities, handed to them grudgingly by professionals who could no longer withstand the force of parental determination, and made good their promise. Kids with disabilities, one at a time, alone against forces that would exclude them, took hold of their schools, grabbed hard on to their neighbourhoods, did not let go their sense of belonging. Kids with hearts as strong strong enough to bear the stares, with determination strong enough to overcome taunts, with faith strong enough to warm cold stares, cut a path for others to follow. They did this.
And today, I saw the result of the gift that parents gave their kids and the results of heroic determination of those that came before. I saw a boy. Just a boy with other boys.
Today I saw, quite simply, a miracle.
Difference. Walking. In. Equality.
* * *
(For those of a Christian spiritual mind, I've written a piece called 'What to wear for Easter' over at Whatever He Says, my friend Belinda's blog. Hop on over, if you're thusly inclined.)