I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
After a truly amazing first session of Wisconsin Partners in Policymaking, I thought that it would be hard to top. I was wrong.
We had the opportunity to hear from Kathie Snow on two topics. Kathie talks about how Disability is Natural (www.disabilityisnatural.com)
The first topic was on Inclusive Education. She told us that inclusion is not visitation; children should not be pulled out of class. We talked about changes in attitudes. There should be high expectations for ALL students, ALL kids belong, let some of the traditional roles of aides shift to peers, and provide the supports to all students and staff.
We learned that as far back as 1866, Samuel Gridley Howe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Gridley_Howe) spoke about segregation. He said at the opening of the New York Institute for the Blind "We should be cautious about establishing such artificial communities...for any children and youth; but more especially should we avoid them for those who have natural infirmity...Such persons spring up sporadically in the community, and they should be kept diffused among sound and normal persons...Surround insane and excitable persons with sane people and ordinary influences; vicious children with virtuous people and virtuous influences; blind children with those who see; mute children with those who speak; and the like... “. This led to a discussion on the 1954 Brown v Board of education case and the talk of segregation in schools.
We were reminded that Special Education is a service, not a place.
The next topic by Kathie centered on Living Real Lives & Dreaming Big Dreams. We were reminded that individuals with disabilities do not need to be fixed. We are all more alike than different. The best place for a person to solve real life problems is in real life. Nobody is independent, we are all interdependent.
In between Kathie’s topics, we also heard from 2 other speakers.
Laura Owens talked about Employment First, The Key to Success.. Laura talked about what is the right thing to do and how do we do it better. She started with a quote from Deborah Walsh with the Chicago Public Schools. “Doing better at the same old thing isn’t good enough. The idea is not to fix things, but to change them”
We talked about employment is, it defines WHO we are, WHAT we can become, HOW we will lead a self-determined life. “Not working is the truest definition of what it means to be disabled” Harris & Associates 1988. We were reminded that change is inevitable, growth is optional. We learned about available resources. Most importantly we learned that all individuals want to have a job that they enjoy.
The final speaker Dennis Harkins and he spoke on Self Determination. Dennis kept referring to a principle of Dee Hock. It is essential to master 4 ways of looking at things:
· As they were
· As they are
· As they might become
· As they ought to be
I can't wait to see what in store for March