Skip to main content

Valued and Respected in Education

There was a 9 year chunk of time, over thirty years ago, when our family lived with a group of people with developmental disabilities.

That period formed my view of people with disabilities as people just like me, with the same human longings and weaknesses;  the same capacity for goodness or "Grinchiness;" greed or generosity; and any other virtue or vice. 

Since then, I've worked in a system where staff support people in group homes, or their own apartments. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the equal rights and freedoms of people with disabilities, but I've often struggled with the knowledge that they and people without disabilities in the community experience very different realities in day to day life. 

But change is happening as our agency and everyone in it, work towards our Vision Statement:
People with exceptional needs belong to communities in which their God-given gifts are valued and respected.
One important source of experiencing value and respect is education. Without it any people group is limited and vulnerable. With it they are equipped and empowered to exercise their rights and freedoms.

Advocates Against Abuse-AAA is one important and exciting educational initiative underway in many agencies, including ours. 
While there will be staff helpers, the trainers being recruited are people with disabilities, who will train their peers on protection from, and the reporting of, abuse.

On Friday morning there was a buzz in the air surrounding my office, which is downstairs in a group home. The job posting for trainers had been printed off for someone who seemed like a natural for the role, but one of her housemates had seen it. He bustled downstairs, rapped at my office door and waved the job posting at me, wanting to know more. I explained and he listened. He'd already signed his name on the line at the bottom saying he wanted to be a trainer. I asked if he'd like me to fax it to the person it needed to go to; he nodded.

I looked at the list of qualities required for the trainers and on the fax cover sheet I gave him a reference. Later in the day he came down to my office again, and I gave him the fax cover sheet, stapled to the job description. I read the lines I'd written about him, including the words, "He is a natural leader." He nodded his head, not with any pride or gratitude, but just at the truth of the words. Moments like that fill my cup.

Later that day as I was about to leave for home, I chatted with a staff member finishing off a task in the next office. She told me how the course she's been running on Friendship Skills was going; how she's used it to help people figure out the difference between strangers, acquaintances and friends. And then she laughed at herself as she told me about a recent incident where she found herself revealing too much personal information to a stranger at the gym and wondering why she just did that. 

Education teaches us all.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Just Joy!

Our family has a standing date for Sunday dinner on the first Sunday of every month. Not that we don't see each other at any other time, but we all know that particular Sunday is pretty much for sure--and I look forward to it so much--the front door bursting open and our house being filled once more with the voices and vibrancy of six grandchildren and their parents. 

This week Spero, Brenda's new Australian Shepherd puppy came too, and met his extended family, leaving Molson at home to have a rest! He was duly adored by all of us.


He came with a dazzling array of toys and is proving a fast learner, already sitting on command and responding to Tori's training. I was so impressed at her technique of quickly rewarding a turnaround from any slight naughtiness with praise for "good sitting," or "good" any other desirable behaviour! 

Tippy had her hair cut stunningly and bravely short the day before; making a statement about who she is as a unique individual, o…

The Secret Adventures of Susan's Scottish Scarf

By Belinda (with a lot of help from Susan :))
I was saying goodnight to her at the front door this week when she told me. There was apparently more to the scarf around her neck than I knew. 
The scarf had been a gift from me for Susan's birthday on Tuesday December 18th. It had been her 60th; and that day I had treated her to lunch to celebrate. 
We met at a tiny restaurant, Port Soiree, in Schomberg,near her office. It was a restaurant neither of us had been to before and it turned out to be a gem, with artsy ambiance, amazing food, wonderful service and modest pricing. In other words, it was perfect!