Let’s face it. Our world is a unique place with a wide variety of people who have varying levels of abilities. There are many factors that make up “disability,” affecting people physically, mentally, or both. It can be visible or invisible. Disability affects all ages, races, and nationalities. It is not a stranger to anyone and can be life-changing. Individuals may be born with a disability, have an illness, develop a certain condition, or may experience a traumatic event. These situations affect everyone differently and may result in physical and/or cognitive changes. These changes affect what we do in all parts of our day. Every. Day.
Our population is aging. There are many factors that affect a persons body through diseases, conditions, and general “wear-and-tear” through life experiences.
No matter what our interests are, most of us desire to connect with others to feel involved and be part of something bigger.We all desire to be involved in life with friends, family, and our community. A church community, a sports team, friends from work, people from school, individuals in a recreational or musical group, or just a few ladies who enjoy bridge or are involved in a book club. No matter what our interests are, most of us desire to connect with others to feel involved and be part of something bigger. This gives us purpose, creates relationships, and encourages us to be better in what we do and how we live our lives.
Plus it can be fun! You’ve heard people say, “I don’t know what I would have done if I had not have found ______ organization or connected with ______ group.” We form connections with others, which can certainly have a positive impact on our self-esteem.
Think about the community of people in your life. What if you unexpectedly became ill, or were in a car accident that required months of recovery? Not being able to participate in your community and having to unexpectedly change your daily routine can have a detrimental impact on your life, because some form of loss has occurred. We imagine that your community would surround you in difficult times, but there is much more involved in the big picture of life when a disability is involved.
The roles you have as a mother, father, child, sibling, professional, etc. will often change. Transitioning from a hospital setting back into home as you know it can be challenging, because your definition of “normal” has changed, perhaps dramatically. Getting back into the real world (jobs, school, leisure activities) is even more difficult if independence with everyday tasks (e.g., getting dressed, showering, etc.) is compromised.
We don’t want anyone to be afraid to take part in what brings them the most joy because the design of the community might not be welcoming to various needs.Maybe you’re in the baby boomer generation, of which 10,000 of you are turning 65 every day. You want to be involved in as much as you can, for as long as you can, right? Age happens, and when the effects of age suddenly makes you realize that it might be unsafe or that there is a possibility of running into unforeseen situations when you venture outside of your home, it’s easy to give up.
We don’t want anyone to be afraid to take part in what brings them the most joy because the design of the community – or how the community functions – might not be welcoming to various needs. This decreases one’s ability to be involved with all sorts of things, and ultimately decreases independence and quality of life.
We don’t know everything that goes on with everyone, and neither do you. That’s okay. It’s difficult to determine how others feel about things, or understand someone’s level of ability after meeting them for the first time. We don’t expect anyone to be an expert about every condition. All we ask is that you be aware that different levels of ability exist in our society. If we focus on the strengths of others – and not on what they can’t do – this will shift our thinking from seeing people with disabilities as burdens to seeing them for their potential as members of our society.[bookpagefooter]