Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Pledge of Personal Power

Several months ago I was in Wisconsin doing a workshop on rights for people with disabilities. I wanted to do up some kind of 'pledge' that people took - a way of confirming a desire to be heard and to be an adult. I took a stab at drawing up a Pledge of Personal Power. It went OK, but left a lot to be desired. Now coming out to BC for two sessions on rights, I pulled it out and worked on it some more.

All writers want their words to have meaning to others. I tried to write something for self-advocates, in plain language. I tried to write what I thought needed to be said. So, I ended up with a page of crossed out words, filled in words and completely blotted out paragraphs. I ended up with something that I thought might work.

In Kamloops we did the new version by standing, those that could, placing hands over hearts and reciting a kind of Pledge of Allegiance to Myself. It went well. One woman cried as she said the words. Then again in Prince George, with a couple more adaptions, it went well, with line ups of people with disabilities asking for a copy. I promised to make it available to everyone. So, here it is ... feel free to use it, or not, just put my name on the bottom as author. As you read it, imagine almost 200 people with disabilities standing, hand over heart, reciting together as a collection of individuals as a united fellowship. Imagine all those voices, together ...

The Pledge of Personal Power

I am me.

There is only one me.

I am the same as everyone else.

I am different from everyone else.

Do not disrespect me.

Do not bully me.

Do not abuse me.

My body is my own.

My mind is my own.

My heart is my own.

I will stay




When I choose to, I will say 'yes'

But when I need to

I will say ... No! Back Off, Leave Me Alone

I will take care of myself.

I will take care of everyone here.


theknapper said...

WOW!!!! I get goosebumps just thinking about a group of folks saying this pledge.

Anonymous said...

What a pledge!!
Sometimes Dave I feel I need your words, sometimes I wish I could give you a call and just hear what you think about some of the stuff I am trying to figure out. Just like your blogs reflect, some days it seems like things are looking better for people with learning difficulties and there is great hope...but some days it seems so so bad, so bleak that its hard to imagine a day when people can just BE! Supported well if support is needed, respected, free from the power of others that undermine their rights to be whoever they are. On those days my heart is heavy, I am sure I often make mistakes but so badly do I want to see things change.
I long to hear words like the pledge, truly spoken and believed in a loud and powerful voice. Sometimes it seems that those words are so distant to the feeling of power that people have. I am truly touched and encouraged that people HAVE said it and felt it and meant it. It is this that I find hope.
Thanks for your words, the reality of hope.