17 — 01
17 — 01

My Edmonton Examiner column: A new perspective


Someone, far much wiser than myself, told me an important to keep up with the changing times is quite simple: change your perspective.
So after much contemplation I am about to write something I never have, and frankly, never thought I would.
Strike up the band. Have a parade.
Tell all your friends. Enemies, too.
National AccessAbility Awareness Week starts Saturday. Information and fun for the  whole family.
You see, as a person who lives with cerebral palsy, I believe inclusion is the very fundamental philosophy — not just for people with disabilities — but everyone.
If we tightly embrace that philosophy the question, I think, still begs for an answer.
Why do we need days, weeks, months and sometimes years to highlight specific populations and communities?
In a perfect world, we would not need such highlighted periods.
But, dare I suggest we are in a perfect world.
I’ve never endorsed NAAW. Nor have I been a fan of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
I do now because of a few reasons.
The biggest one is especially concerning to me — something I have never seen in my life.
And it might surprise you when I say the awarenesses and understanding of people with disabilities, today, is the most challenging I  have experienced. And it has been that way for the past year, at least.
One of the biggest reasons is the ultra-fast world we inhabit. We need everything not now … but right now.
We’ve become impatient.
We don’t share that extra 20 or 30 seconds  to ask someone who doesn’t speak clearly to repeat themselves; or, share 15 seconds to hold a public door open for someone with mobility issues; or, gently taking someone with a visual impairment to cross a busy intersection.
I certainly have to wonder if our compassion and understanding for people in general is being rushed and hurried.

Bt we still care.
Don’t we?
Another reason: people living with  a disability don’t seem to want to be as vocal as our 1970 pioneers — and we are eternally grateful to them — who started grass roots programs, services and awareness.
Perhaps, it’s generational.
In Alberta, we do not have an elected  official in the legislature with — and, an advance apology for suggesting — a visible disability. The can be said about Edmonton city council.
Out of sight. Out of mind.
That’s why I want to encourage you to look at the information next week, starting May 28, on traditional and social media on people with disabilities. 
We live in an information overload world. Let’s challenge ourselves to channel new information into caring for our friends and neighbours who live with disabilities.
National AccessAbility Week has never had a more profound belonging than now.


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