I was inspired by a very sensitive blog post of dilshatkalshabek who presents the story of one girl in a wheelchair who was treated with sympathy, arrogance, pride, and rudeness just being outside alone. The author writes how important it is to “transform the mindset” of people, to make it more open to diversity and, as a result, to inclusion because nowadays people with disabilities are treated in a thousand different ways but not as normal people. I do agree that we should change something about it and make our society inclusive so that anybody could feel respected and appreciated.
In order to understand someone’s problems, we need to know about them first. In order to stop treating people with special needs with pity, we should know about their real needs and abilities. So I started to think and search for some ideas of how we can “transform” the views of the society.
- Admit that with disabilities are capable of amazing things
I have found a website of CARA – the national organization of Ireland which provides physically disabled with opportunities to sport and other activities. They support many social activities, create materials for coaches, and increase awareness of their work in the community. One fascinating idea is CAMP ABILITIES – the camp for children with visual impairments. The program is developed to empower children and show how much they can; they are not limited to anything!
2. Encourage others to care
Another initiative is also from CARA – National Inclusion Awards which honors entrepreneurs and activists contributing to the expansion of people’s with special needs participation in sport and physical activities. It started in 2012 and has already become a “gold standard of outstanding work of organizations and individuals” who create conditions for inclusion in their communities. Such award is great in terms of increasing appreciation of the care and equal access to different activities.
3. Support with information
However, not all the people with special needs have an opportunity or desire to go in for sports. They just live and face world’s cruelty on the daily basis. And we should admit that many times it is not the cruelty itself, it is just the lack of knowledge of others how to behave ordinarily. On this problem, I have found one very engaging resource http://connectability.ca which is a virtual community with information and different tools for people with disabilities and their families. They post many materials, games, articles for and about communication. Look at the Responding To Disability Quiz which demonstrates with short stories examples how people’s attitude towards disabled individuals varies and why it should not. The quiz is short but very informative. Try it yourself and you will see that next time you meet someone with special needs you will not be concerned about your “pitiful” behavior.
4. Start with ourselves
The most important thing on our way to inclusive society is to be a human. Just kind and careful human. To accept diverse minds, faces, bodies. And here is an amazing video with some tips how to manage it.
In order to increase awareness of people about real abilities of those with special needs, we should go against our prejudices, encourage people to participate in the creating of activities common for all, and give the enough food for thought on our relationship with each other. The transformation of the mentality is a long process but effective steps taken can shorten the time needed for change. I tried to suggest some practices from other parts of the world but if the readers have anything to share we can create much more and start our own initiatives here, in Kazakhstan.