Our Variety KC family has such valuable experiences to share with one another. Today is a day to share, we need to know – what would you do?
A Variety mom shared this story today. It isn’t the first, it won’t be the last, but if we can find a way to better educate others – maybe we can reduce the frequency of these situations.
Parker loves going on walks with his mom. He can’t physically handle a long walk so he uses an adaptive stroller. Throughout the walk, he will get out of the stroller and tackle the hills to work on his strength. Today a man about 30 years of age rode his bicycle up behind Parker and his mom and said loudly, “Don’t his legs work?” Then, he quickly rode off. Mom was seething and tried hard not to show Parker how upset she was.
They came to a stopping point and rather than wait for his mom to prompt him to get out of the stroller, Parker quickly got out and started to walk. It was like he understood those hurtful words and wanted to prove that yes, he can walk! His mom says that’s the part of the story she loves the most, that Parker set out to prove that bully wrong. Here’s what mom wants everyone to know, “This story is not to make Parker an inspiration to anyone, that’s ableism. People with disabilities are just trying to live their life like you and I. It may look different, but we all want the same thing. Parker’s disability may not be visible, but that man’s ignorance is.”
Mom’s shock soon turned to anger and just then, the bike rider was returning. She called out to him, challenging him to have a conversation with her. Like the coward he is, he rode away. Mom’s first instinct is to keep an eye out for him and snap his picture next time, but how do we prevent the “next times?” As mom said, “we’re used to the stares and people asking us questions as Parker makes noises and flaps his hands, but we’ve never been verbally attacked before.” She is concerned that the abuse will get worse as her son gets older, he is already big for his age and it seems that draws unwanted attention too. The silver lining in this story is that another mom and child were with them on their excursion and their support made a world of difference.
When she returned home, she wrote to share this story. It’s so upsetting, it took a while to process and post this blog. Variety truly feels that education and shared experiences can be the answer, but not the whole answer. Please tell us, what would YOU do or say, what have you said or done. How do we reduce the hurt as we go forward with our #inclusionrevolution?