My child is just a regular child. Not an “angel”, not “special.” Not a “medical condition” nor a “poor thing.” Not a problem to be fixed, not a “monster.” As a parent, you know your children are just a people, like everybody else. The problem, unfortunately, is that society won’t always treat children that way.
The following is excerpted from, “Three Ways to Look at Disability: A three part discussion series for groups of parents of children with disabilities; Empowering our Children”:
“As parents, one of the wonderful gifts we can give our children is to help them enter the world of self-advocacy, a worldwide movement that is led by people with disabilities, reshaping society to bring basic civil rights and equality to all. Advocating Change Together (based in St. Paul, MN) is has developed two new resources to provide that entry point for children with disabilities: a leadership curriculum for students age 10 -16, and a series of training workshops for parents of future self-advocates. In the first of the parent workshops, participants will build the skills to see the different ways society looks at disability, understand how these ways can harm or help people with disabilities, and empower their child with this knowledge.”
The Truth About ACT
Advocating Change Together (ACT) is an organization run by and for people with developmental disabilities and other disabilities. It was formed in 1979 in response to the growing concern that individuals with developmental disabilities were being isolated and excluded from decisions regarding their lives. ACT is committed to this premise: It is not the individual who must change to fit society, but society and systems that must change toaccommodate all people. By organizing people with disabilities around common issues of concern, and training new leaders, ACT has been successful in helping make these changes. In 1992, ACT began producing a series of leadership training materials called Tools for Change. Since then ACT has continued to publish written materials that supplement its main work of hands-on leadership training and civil rights organizing.The Self-Advocacy Movement and Disability Rights Throughout history society has denied person’s with disabilities the most fundamental of human rights: the right to self determination, the right to choose how and where to live, and the right to basic human dignity, the right to share power and leadership. Over the last 30 years, a worldwide movement has arisen to challenge society and right these wrongs: the self advocacy movement. This grassroots, civil rights movement is founded on the values of dignity, choice and shared leadership. Within this movement,everyone’s gifts are valued and utilized, and people with disabilities speak for themselves. Since today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, children with disabilities need to learn at an early age that they are valued, that they have power, that they belong, and that they can share in the leadership ofsociety. ACT’s new resources are a step in that direction. We feel that the public educational system and the home are the best places to empower the next generation of leaders.If you would like to learn more about ACT, or join the Self-Advocacy Resource Network and receive monthly E-mails on topics of self-advocacy and disability rights, please visit our website at www.selfadvocacy.org.