I'm very pleased to announce that the middle and upper primary (elementary) sections of the 'What we're wheelie like...' Teacher's resource book are now in print and available for use. This completes the book for 5 to 13 year olds, however, I will now work on some simple activities that will be added to the book shortly, so that pre-school children can be introduced to the subject of dealing with difference
This resource is also very suitable for Out of School Care and Vacation Care programs.
Many of my friends are wheelchair users, and thought you may like to hear about an experience had while out with a friend living with MS. It was amazing to see how many (So called Normal) people who actually walked right into my friend`s wheelchair while out in our city centre (here in Cardiff South Wales/UK). Their reactions were that of not saying "Sorry" for being at fault but looking at my Friend/Mate as if it were his fault for being alive, let alone having to use a wheelchair. Another thing which really annoys me is to see people talk to the person with a wheelchair user as if that person has no brain, is unable to talk or understand what is being said. On one occassion, while with my friend, I made a point of talking with a young lady wheelchair user even though I understood she was unable to talk. This young girls' smile said it all, along with her Mother saying "Thank You" for taking the time to actually talk with her daughter. The mother explained they were going shopping and so the daughter and I had a great time talking about what she was out to buy. As already stated, I have many friends who happen to be wheelchair users, all of whom are very much like Sue Austin in their outlook on life. http://www.ted.com/talks/sue_austin_deep_sea_diving_in_a_wheelchair.html A number of these friends recently took part, as production team members, in the "Disability Wales`s story at 40" project. Links to all the stories we video recorded can be found via their web site.
I really like John's comment about speaking to the young lady who was shopping. My mum encountered the same issues of being treated like her brain was not connected, so I applaud John for taking the time to speak to the young lady and it obviously delighted her Mum. This could be considered a 'random act of kindness'. Thanks John for your thoughtfulness.
This article encapsulates what I'm saying, 'They're people first, and they just happen to be disabled'. My book, 'What we're Wheelie like...' is subtitled, 'We're regular people and we use a wheelchair'.
I welcome the notion that one day buildings will be designed to be accessible for everyone, and the need for 'Disabled' signage will be obsolete.
International Wheelchair Day is almost upon us - Friday 1st March. Wherever you are in the world, please take time to create an event, no matter how small, to celebrate what wheelchairs have done for the people who need them.
Let's help the world to see that wheelchair users are great people, capable of great things, just like everyone else.
Have a fantastic International Wheelchair Day. Thanks to Steve Wilkinson for creating this day several years ago, to remember the fantastic job done by his devoted Mum, to ensure that he had every opportunity to experience a fulfilling life.
I'm involved in the very slow process of trying to introduce this 'Wheelie like' book and teachers resource kit about disability, exclusion, bullying, differences, respect and dignity to teachers around Australia. As each school is responsible for purchasing their own resources and making their own decision about what resources they want, it is impossible to just approach the State Education offices and ask them to inform teachers. If you consider that this is a topic that needs to be taught in our schools, can you please encourage any friends who are teachers to take a look at this website and email me if they have any questions.
The resource book is being upgraded and will contain work for all ages of primary (elementary) school.
Whilst I'm not supposed to be amazed by, inspired by or in awe of people using wheelchairs, or multiple amputees, or anyone else who doesn't fit the 'regular person' mold, I can't help thinking how 'gutsy' some people are compared to me.
When I see people undertaking a hugely challenging ascent of a snow-covered mountain, with 2 prosthetic legs(no the mountain doesn't have the prostheses, the person does), or skiing with no legs, in a specially designed rig that fits atop a single ski, or sailing solo as a quadriplegic, around the British Isles whilst sipping and puffing through 2 straws, I feel that I am more than a little un-adventuresome.
During the interview process for writing 'What we're Wheelie like...' many of the interviewees mentioned that they tire of hearing, 'You're inspirational', 'It's amazing the way you do that' etc, etc. After hearing this day in and day out, it's begun to grate on their nerves. As a result, I've tried to alter the content of my conversations with people who differ from me, aiming not to annoy them, but simply to converse with them, like I would anyone else.
It may sound trite, but when life is more difficult and the ordinary things we all need to do each day, take longer due to a disability, the added irritation of hearing these comments that are supposed to be a compliment, can be just another mental challenge.
It's made me think and I'm hoping the book will make others think, by asking the readers to consider 'What if...' and ponder each of the scenarios to see how they would feel if they were in that position.
I heard a great story about some children who had a disabled cousin, with whom they got on well. At the swimming pool one day they just jumped up and helped the teachers of a class of disabled students, by putting on their floaties, to get them ready for the water. The teacher asked their Mum why they were helping so capably and willingly.
The mum replied that due to their relationship with their cousin, they didn’t have any concept of treating people differently. To them everyone was the same.
The teacher commended her on the way she had brought up her children.