I was told two stories yesterday of people with disabilities going out in life, taking advantage of living life, having fun and others being shocked by their desire to do so.
It begged these questions in me – Why are people still so easily shocked by people with disabilities just living their lives? Why is it that some people think a presence of a disability negates the desire to have fun, take risks, and feel alive, enjoying life?
No disability can quell those very human desires.
The first story was about a man who has paraplegia and uses a wheelchair. He was at a wedding recently. During the dancing at the reception, the guests circled around the bride, taking turns getting in the center with her and dancing. When this man joined in, pulling his out his dance moves with his upper body and tipping his wheelchair back, the dancing crowd was shocked.
So were they astonished because:
A. He wanted to dance and joined in on the fun.
B. That he had the courage to get in the center with the bride. (Because let’s face it, we’ve all had that feeling of wanting to get in the center of attention, but feeling held back by our self-doubt.)
C. That he had better dance moves than the other people.
D. All of the above.
My vote is on D. This story reminds me of the new “frontier” we have in disability education – to teach society that it’s not just about getting accommodations and basic rights, but honoring our desire for FULL participation in ALL aspects of living life.
The second story was shared to me by an employee of Arise, the regional Independent Living Center in Central New York. Arise runs a Ski program every winter. The employee told me about giving a presentation about the ski program and someone from the audience asking, “Why would anyone with a disability want to ski?”
Really? People think that having a disability alone would take away the desire for fun, risk, and adventure?
Then I have to silently thank the person who asked this sincere question and the people at the wedding who stood in shock on the dance floor. They are both reminders and motivators for me to teach more and more about the importance of living life in ALL aspects (dance floor and snowy slopes included!).
As Radiant Abilities emerges into its new online presence as an information and training resource, look for a heavy emphasis on the art of living life fully with a disability.
You’re turn now, regardless of whether you have a disability, what action have you taken in which you have shocked people by your zest for life? Comment below and check out my answer.