Monday, 16 May 2016

Community Inclusion - The Norm

iDareU recently hosted a Community Fair. People with disabilities sold things they created alongside small businesses in the community and iDareU selling lots of amazing, pre-loved things.

We made a decision to not use the word 'inclusion' anywhere in the advertising. "WHY?" - I hear you ask. Inclusion needs to STOP being an announcement and needs to become so common and natural that no-one notices.

People who have a disability and their families live in a community of some sort. They are mainly in suburbs or towns or districts and co-habitat with everyone else. So WHY then do we need to make a fuss when people with a disability join with other members of their community to do something as normal as selling their goods (whether they make those goods themselves or source them)?

I loved the story from Dylan Alcott - Australian Open champion and quad wheelchair world No.1.
He tells of a well-meaning woman congratulating him on the way he smoothly transitioned from airplane seat to his chair. He found this a bizarre comment, as this is what he always does - his wheels are his legs. He lightly made the comment that he almost congratulated her on the way she made her way from her seat to a standing position to leave the plane.

People with a disability are not heroes because they do what comes naturally to them, they are just a normal person. A person who mainly lives in a diverse community and tries to make the most of what they have. The time has come for community to not only embrace people who are different but to just accept them and love their differences...whether they be disabled, immigrants, have different sexuality, whatever! A community that embraces diversity is indeed a much richer and more tolerant community then one that repels it!

So lets all make a concerted effort the next time we plan a community event to invite and include all involved in your community to participate, and to not make a huge song and dance about the fact you are being inclusive but be natural. This way we teach others to do the same.

Lets all be a part of making community inclusion the norm!

Sue Dymond

Monday, 2 May 2016

The wind beneath my wings

I have recently been presenting workshops for Carers of people with disabilities. These interactive workshops are very casual, yet it amazes me that a large group of people can sit in a room and listen to someone speak for a couple of hours, then get up and leave without connecting with anyone else! However, when you ask people to introduce themselves and actually include everyone in the process of the workshop, the chatter with new friends in incessant!

There is a section where attendees can discuss their fears around their loved ones with a disability. They then have to come up with something to remove that fear. The astonishing thing about this exercise is that when people start discussing their fears, they realise they all have the same fears! And right up until this point - they thought they were the only ones, that they were weak or crazy for having such fears! All of a sudden a huge weight is lifted, as they realise they are normal and like everyone else. I don't believe there is anything more healing for the soul than to realise you are not alone on your journey and there are people like you that are willing to walk beside you.

The most important thing about a Community is talking to each other and finding out we are much more alike than different. I have previously spoken about becoming part of a greater local Community, but you should never underestimate the importance of becoming a part of our disability Community. I like to see this Community as my Tribe. My tribe does not have to have a loved one with Down syndrome, they just have to have a loved one with a disability to be able to connect with me on a very different level to someone who has never walked this path. These are the people I don't need to have my 'happy face' painted on for. These are the people who really GET IT when I say I just want to run away.

These are the people who are the wind beneath my wings. They help me fly, as well as allow me to grieve and even throw a tantrum.

THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ALLOW ME TO BE ME and for that, I thank you!

Sue Dymond