Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I've Got A Free Ticket

You know I've always thought that I was pretty good about disability over all and my disability specifically. However over the last few weeks I've been working on the Disability Pride programme for Vita. Let me back up. Vita is going to institute a Disability Pride event once a month for the whole year. In this a small group of us are designing an activity that will happen agency wide, in every location, with as many members and staff as possible participating.

Today we put the final touches on January's activity and sent it out. The activities for February and March are pretty much wrapped up too. It's been fun. I've been researching disability pride web pages - where I found relatively little on 'approaches' or 'strategies' for fostering. So, then, I went to pride pages for other minorities. Here I found more and found myself reading interesting articles and seeing some ideas that will be adaptable over the course of the year.

In doing all this, creating activities for people with intellectual disabilities, I've had to personally look at the issues being raised. I realized that I kind of 'fell' into disability. Loosing my ability to walk one day, on the road, in front of an audience. And a couple of days later, after crashing to the floor several times over, rolling into a hospital asking 'what's gone wrong with me'? There really wasn't much of a transition period and there was absolutely no one who talked to me about the shift in how I moved. Other than being fitted first for a manual and then for a power wheelchair, no one spent any time with me doing a 'hey you are disabled now and here's what to expect ...' talk. My doctor did a brief, 'here's what disability doesn't mean' talk that was perfect for me at the time ... but that's it.

So reading websites, from around the minority blogosphere and developing ideas into activities, I've been thinking, deeply, about disability and what it means to me. About pride and why its important. I've been finding little hidden pockets of shame and denial - they came as a real surprise. I've noted a kind of 'disability hierarchy' that's developed in my own thinking - this shocked me.

Pride, I guess, is a journey. Self acceptance, I'm learning, is a process not an event. So this journey, this process, that I had intended for others to begin, is a perfect start to a new year for me.

Who knew that the best thing about teaching, is learning?


bread & roses said...

I just discovered your blog and it delights me. I appreciate your willingness to share yourself- even the parts that you are not so proud of. It's a beautiful gift.

Anonymous said...

You people at Vita must have the most enlightened leadership on the planet. Where I work we're not even allowed to talk about people as having disabilities! It is like disability is a bad thin.

ivanova said...

Very cool. You don't stop thinking. I like also that this Vita outfit is doing disability pride every month and not just once a year.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I hope that you share what some of the activities are. I agree with anonymous - your leadership is enlightened.

Thanks for sharing your own journey.

Kristine said...

I've been disabled since birth, but I'm still figuring out all the time what disability means to me. Nobody ever talked about it with me either. Absolutely a journey.

I can't remember ever in my life seeing an event or anything dedicated to disability pride. I've seen disability awareness, and I've generally seen it done poorly, but I've never seen disability pride. And I've often wished that I had...

Liza said...

I've been reading your blog for a few days now and i have to say i love it. As a young mother of a disabled child its very encouraging :)
From another perspective, parents of disabled children all they ever seem to get is the 'this isnt what this disability means' talk too. More open conversation would be great

Anonymous said...

I hate it when people say, 'oh so you are... (whatever)? But I don't think of you as any different'. For me, PRIDE is about saying, yes I am different. And that's fine. Get over it.
And doing it in the company of others who are different like me (but also different to me!) makes it AMAZING.

Lyndsay said...


Your openness to personal change, self reflection and your clarity of thought in your posts is why I consider your blog daily educational reading and mentorship. When I consider my daily tasks as a support worker and am sometimes tired of inaccessible community outings, I think about what you would do - and I believe that you would calmly enter a space and firmly ask that it be made accessible to you. I did this today, and I see you've laid out some more work for me with this post.

Please do not stop writing.