In 2012 I commemorate the first International Day of Mourning and Memory of the Lives of People with Disabilities.
This day… was created to call attention to the crimes against the lives that could have been lived, that should have been shared. It is also dedicated to those who continue to rise and fight, who refuse to be silent, who advocate long past exhaustion. Dave Hingsburger
And I share what this day means to me…
I don’t mourn disability and ask you don’t mourn my child’s disability.
I do mourn for the lives lost and potentially still being lost because of disability.
I mourn the child being excluded from a mainstream class because a teacher doesn’t want to teach everyone… and claims “there is special teachers & places for that?”
I mourn the child (and family) not being allowed to dream, to have their life filled with constant cries of “he wont, he can’t, he’ll never…”
I mourn the lives being damaged by disability systems that are built around the charity and pity model of care.
I mourn for the children being suspended from school because the adults around them aren’t being kind or fair, they set them up to fail and then blame it on “behaviours”.
I mourn that even now, in this day and age, there is still a desire to segregate, to have “special programs” to create a line through the community, to foster a ‘them and us’ mentality without thinking through the damage it can cause.
I mourn the people who have gone before us and fought this fight only for many to see it was only temporary and watch, as decades on, we are still fighting for the same stuff.
I mourn for those who don’t have a say, who are deemed unable to communicate even though their facial expressions speak volumes and could tell you much… if only you bothered to look at their face.
I mourn for those still living in an institution setting – despite there (supposedly) being “no more institutions in Australia”. An institution is not based on the number of people under one roof – it’s about the freedom and choice a person has. A family home could be as detrimental as an institution if there is no goal for a good life, no love, no freedom and no support for growth.
I mourn there are still special schools built on the institution model… but because the people working there are “kind and caring” and a sense of “safety” is trotted out to parents they don’t get challenged.
I mourn the grown up man still being referred to as a ‘kid’ by his family, dressed in babyish ‘tigger’ t-shirts, a man who may very well be over-loved, but under-estimated.
I mourn the children whose families buy into the “he won’t, he can’t, he’ll never” and hope someone, somewhere, steps in.
I mourn the loss of Anne McDonald her voice was one we needed. I fear without her presence the tragedies of the past could easily be repeated.
I mourn the fact we know better yet aren’t always doing better?