Some lovely people (probably my parents) have nominated me for the category of ‘Making a Difference’ at the BAPS blogging awards presented by Bringing us Together.
It got me thinking, how do I want to make a difference?
Firstly, the difference starts at home. There is no point in me speaking and writing to inform others about what life is like for families like mine unless I’m doing the best I can where it matters most – at home. Home is where the real me lives and that means not being super woman. It involves getting help (lots of it), creating space to work and rest, and whenever possible having fun with my family.
I care about other parents and want them to feel less alone. However, I don’t have a single ‘thing’ I’m especially passionate about or campaign for. There are dedicated and articulate bloggers who campaign hard for more changing places – I’m with them all the way. As you could tell in the summer, I get really riled by 100% attendance awards. But both of those things, I think, are symptoms of a bigger problem.
I would love to make a difference to people’s attitudes.
At the minute, I spend some of my time merging my parent and professional worlds to train practitioners about communicating with families like mine. I’m passionate about bringing a family perspective to professional practice. Because I think when people’s eyes and ears to the lives they don’t normally see, their attitudes change and practice improves.
And I think that is true for society as a whole.
The only reason we are fighting for equal access and changing places facilities is because as a community we are more inclined to pity people with disabilities rather than respect and value them.
Most people are happy to donate to charities like Children in Need. We feel better for improving the lives of those less fortune. And possibly deep down, we do so out of gratitude that it isn’t us on the TV making everyone cry.
We are good at pity.
We are good at feeling sorry for people and wanting to help – on our own terms.
But until seeing people with disabilities doesn’t cause us to sigh and think “ah bless!” then I’m not sure how quickly things will change.
I am currently mildly obsessed with The Greatest Showman. The story tells the rise of PT Barnam and his Circus. I’ve only seen it once, but I’m planning on using the fact my eldest son hasn’t seen it to go again. I absolutely loved it.
The circus Phineas creates is made up of the unseen people of society in the 1890’s. Even before I saw it, I had wept listening to the song, ‘This is me’, sung by Kaela Settle who plays a bearded lady.
“”’Cause we don’t want your broken parts”
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars…
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious…I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me”
As much as times have changed since horse drawn carts and the disabled being left begging on the streets, we still have a tendency to keep our scars and bruises hidden – especially on Facebook.
Change will only come when we stop feeling sorry for people with challenges or disabilities.
When we stop seeing productivity as directly related to worth.
When we value people, not what they ‘contribute’ in monetary terms.
When, as society, we stop trying to make everyone look the same, behave the same and be independent, can we really discover the value of community, interdependence and celebrate difference.
These things enhance a society, not drain them.
And in the brilliant words of the young PT Barnum Ziv Zaifman
“A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make”
When we let everyone, live life ‘moving to the beat they drum’ then we are richer, more beautiful and more hopeful.
We won’t need to be campaigning for accessible spaces because who we are as a whole will be in forefront of everyone’s mind.
Not just the elite, not the few but the beauty, power and diversity of us all.