Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Promoting a positive view of disability

I've just been posting over at Crawley Catenian about the charity that the Crawley Catenian Circle is going to be supporting in 2012-13 and decided I'd like to mention it on this blog too, because it's one whose work I very much admire and which is very much in the pro-life spirit.

The Circle will be supporting Just Different.  This is a charity set up in 2008 by Toby Hewson, a young man suffering from cerebral palsy, to educate children and young people about the world of disability and thus promote positive social attitudes towards disabled people.  Just Different take interactive workshops on disability - written, produced and presented by disabled people - into mainstream schools.  One of Horsham's primary schools, St John's, recently enjoyed one of their workshops which was very well received.

Toby Hewson, Just Different's founder
Edek and I have found from our experience with our daughter Aila that out of the many challenges facing disabled people, one of the most crippling can be the fear of whether other people will be able to relate to them.  Will those they meet be able to see past the wheelchair to the "ordinary" person within?  How will this affect their working relationships?  How easy will it be to make friends?  Unfortunately their fears are not always unfounded, but this isn't necessarily because people bear ill-will towards them or are prejudiced.  Often it is because of simple misunderstanding which means that others aren't quite sure what to do, say or expect.

By working with young people, Just Different is tackling this problem at grass roots level.  A generation of youngsters growing up today with an understanding and appreciation of disabled people will lead to a more genuinely inclusive society tomorrow.

Just Different offer their workshops free of formal charge, although they ask a suggested donation from the schools they visit.  They are keen to keep things on this basis and avoid charging large fees which many might find unaffordable, thus restricting access to their life-changing message.  However they need financial support - to, in their own words, "pay for the recruitment and training of disabled presenters, the travel costs associated with reaching the schools, workshop equipment and workshop development, so that we can bring about the changes we feel so passionately about."  They are therefore seeking voluntary forms of financial giving to support their costs.

To read more about Just Different, visit www.justdifferent.org.

"We see a world in which difference is always valued. The earlier children and young people begin to learn about disability, the more likely they are to just accept it as a normal part of the world they live in for the rest of their lives. JustDifferent workshops demonstrate to children and young people that disabled people can achieve, participate and lead normal lives."

By working towards a society where disability is accepted as a normal part of the world we live in and where all and sundry accept that disabled people can lead happy, worthwhile lives just like everyone else, we are working towards one in which the pressure to abort or euthanase whole sections of society will have been consigned to a less enlightened period of our human history...

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