Lately people have challenged me and asked what gives you the right to advocate for the disabled and the abused? I got to thinking, if I respond immediately I would scream angrily “hey stupid maybe the wheels under my ass and the ten years of molestation I survived”, Then I paused and engaged mindfulness and my answer suddenly became more involved.
Groups all over the country have popped up in recent years, the challenged athletes foundation, adaptive climbing, Para triathlon and so many more one of the oldest is Achilles road runners.
These clubs all do it right, but for everyone that does it right there are ten more that think that for instance a snooker and nine ball club for amputees is as simple as a bar and a pool table, but what about food?
I have found from conversation with amputee friends that some of them have stomach and digestive problems from the same illness or injury that took their limb.
Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of amputation in the United States, and if you’re diabetic as well as losing a limb you have to follow a strict diet to control your sugars.
If you run a group for the blind you have to be aware of uncluttered access.
Of course the examples above are obvious but you would be surprised how many groups I have been invited to that were wheelchair accessible, only to find out last minute switching of locations by the moderator has found me at the bottom of a staircase.
If you run or moderate a group you don’t get to say “you’re an adult your responsible for yourself”, if you are going to start a group that invites the dis or otherwise abled to any kind of common interest while they are dropped off in your care you must make sure you have planned and arranged and double checked everything. Access, facilities, bathrooms and extra help for the severely disabled and of course food for everything from the diabetic to kosher and vegan and don’t forget Sign language translators for the hearing impaired.
All the previous stated are necessary because for whatever amount of time those people are in your group or meeting they are yours, you wouldn’t invite people to a party or a dinner without making sure every minute detail was covered well it is even more important when those coming are already fighting everyday life because of some kind of disability or impairment.
I don’t want to labor the point so let’s finish with this to wrap up, no one is denying your good intentions but organizing the advocacy and training of a portion of society is so much more than just saying here’s the address show up. Before you can even consider running a group you have to make a list bullet point by bullet point.Even if your greatest desire is to give back to your own community you have to ask yourself if your leaving one unfed or at the bottom of the stairs is helping or are you just rubbing in their disability by being one more person who just didn’t put any thought to their involvement.