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?