the society I see… is the society for me!

I watch one of Mac’s classmates, “C” scurry back into the room after the bell had gone.

“Have you got one of those wheelchair sheets?” he asked the teacher, “I’m taking one home for my Dad.”

‘What’s a wheelchair sheet?’ you ask …

Well, it seems the kids are working on inventions and mods for Mac’s wheelchair at the moment, some work is going on in class… others are taking it home to keep working on.  But “C” decided his Dad will probably have some good ideas on how to make Mac’s chair work for soccer… C’s dad also uses a wheelchair.

I had a good chuckle with C’s mum about the fact her husband is now getting homework.

But… let’s just think about what is going on here.

Mac’s peers and Mac are designing wheelchair modifications and activities to make it possible for Mac to do more stuff WITH THEM.

I’ve seen a couple of the blueprints.

clipart image of a blueprint drawing with a ruler and pencil laying over them - blueprint sketch is ambiguous and not relevant to story - it's just an illustration

There’s a multi-net cricket catching contraption, a catapult style bowling attachment (yay for the girls for finally coming up with a catapult) and one of the boys is working on how to attach the class carpet sweeper to Mac’s chair, so he can help out with class chores.

Part of this ties in to their “Awesome in August” class challenge, but much of this innovative thinking has followed some of the other kids designing a way for Mac to play handball with them in the playground.

The handball idea was the kids’ initiative.  They do seek out our assistance (but generally only when they need me to buy something LOL).

This is our future generation, this is the society we get to look forward to.  A society where where inclusion and innovation reign supreme.

So why would anyone want less than this for their kids?

Why do people choose segregated schools, segregated classrooms or segregated activities?  Why don’t they want what is on offer in a place where “all means all”, where disability “value adds” and where innovation, problem solving and broader thinking is the norm?

I can see the society I want my son to grow up in, and I look forward to it.  I’m not convinced that the other choices don’t actually weaken a society.


Filed under Access all Areas, Inclusion... straight up!, things that make me go "glll"

7 responses to “the society I see… is the society for me!

  1. Merridy

    That is just brilliant Gina! As you said…how could anyone want anything less for their kids!

  2. I love Macs class and community!!! Go guys!!!

  3. Ruby McGill

    I stand in awe of the inclusion which is granted to Mac – the way in which his classmates assist him, and his ability to stay at grade level with them. But life is not always the way we would want it. My daughter began school in a typical classroom (she has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, severe brain malformation, encysted fourth ventricle, which presses on her brain stem, which had atrophied by six months, as well as severe scoliosis) and although it was harder for her to learn, she did well, and was fully included in classroom activities. At the end of her pre-primary year she had an episode which brought her to the brink of death, and left her severely cognitively and physically damaged. For three years she was in palliative care, and rarely made it to school, sleeping for up to 20 hours a day.
    Two years ago we made big changes in her medications, physical therapy, etc, and she began to ‘reenter’ the world; however she was now far behind her peers, and was reluctant to go to school because she couldn’t keep up. She was the child in the back of the classroom in a wheelchair.
    We were able to get her enrolled in a Special Ed school, where they practice Conductive Education, incorporating physical therapy in her learning program. Each day they engage in a series of exercises, stretches, physical challenges, which assist in her ability to learn and concentrate. She also has swimming in a heated pool twice a week at the school. Classes are very small – her class has 5 students, all in wheelchairs, (only two verbal children in the class), a teacher, assistant and three aides at all times.
    For her, this school has been brilliant. It truly is inclusion at its best – each child is taught to their own level – catering for their various abilities and disabilities, whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or a combination of all of these.
    She has blossomed in this setting – seeing herself as capable, achieving, and even being the ‘voice’ for those in her classroom who cannot verbalise.
    For her, this has been the best decision we could have made. I know that all children are different, and their needs are as varied as their diagnoses; the reality is that a ‘normal’ school just could not offer the programs that this school can – there is not the space, or trained personnel available. Her school also has a Therapy team on site, so there are always therapists available to help with problems with seating, wheelchairs, access, and the many other difficulties which arise from time to time.
    I look forward to a time when ALL schools could offer the kind of support that our special kids need; when taking a disabled child to a swimming pool would be made easier because there were hoists, shower chairs, cubicles suitable to change a disabled child. I wish that all pavements could be easily negotiated with a power wheelchair; that homes were built to accommodate a wheelchair or a larger shower area.
    It is wonderful to read of Mac’s inclusion and progress and I applaud your actions and decisions which have aided Mac’s inclusion.

  4. Gina @

    Thanks Merridy & Bron and Ruby, yes, we’ll keep working towards that time & place where accessibility and inclusion are so ordinary they won’t even rate in our psyche – so pleased your daughter is leaving palliation behind after three years… what a feat!

  5. vicky

    Gina you are an inspiration – I am sure that Macs inclusion has not happened totally by chance but by the huge effort on your part to make sure it happened. Whilst Courtney started school late due to the intensive home schooling and therapy activities we did – I am still struggling 5 years on to make it inclusive for her. Also we were newbies to a relatively small rural town – so coming from Sydney and fitting in has been a challenge for all of us.

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