Tag Archives: inclusion

the lost boys…

Mac finally had his 10th birthday party – some two months after the actual event.  We haven’t done a formal birthday party since kindergarten, so we figured it was about time and double digits is always call for celebration.

After much debate, the WHO, WHAT & WHEN was settled.

the who…

all the year four boys (28) in total with 20 coming out for the fun

the when…

dates were negotiated with others planning similar festivities around the same time

the what…

activities were discussed, plans hatched and invitations sent

screen grab of party invitation. text says: You're invited to Mac's Birthday party along with all the Grade 4 boys. Weather permitting we will light a “baby bonfire” at 5pm(ish), if grown-ups wish to come and stay for a sausage sandwich at 5pm & help look after your own kids around the fire that would be fantastic. No birthday presents required. If you want to put a gold coin in a treasure chest that we will put out, Mac can use that money towards something he wants/needs. Feel free to bring your bikes & helmets and be sure to wear your oldest clothes as we may head into the bush or go on a treasure hunt. RSVP info adds: As you can probably guess we aren’t so used to those fast moving, walking & talking variety kids, so anyone wishing to hang around & lend a hand is more than welcome. Also, while the kids have confidence in Mac’s ability to pass messages on to us, and it’s great if they let ‘him know’ they are coming, can you please make sure you let us know too ;-) Please let us know of any allergies

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The party started with a bike ride.  Mac’s bike jogger was attached to Shawn’s bike, and off they went.  All but three of the kids had bikes so those guys took the iPad and filmed the ‘riders’.

shot of all 20 kids in the distance on a country road 17 on bikes and three running behind. Mac in his trailer on the back of the bike. more like bike specs in the distance than clear images.

A treasure hunt was next on the agenda.

We set up the treasure hunt so that Mac’s could have his iPad using Proloquo2Go (P2Go) speak the clue.  When the kids arrived at each location the clue envelope simply pointed them to the next colour clue Mac was required to give them.  What worked particularly well was that it didn’t matter how far ahead some kids got, they needed to wait for Mac and his push-buddies to arrive before they could move on.  We didn’t do teams it was an “all for one and one for all” type of event.

Here’s how it worked with P2Go, the clues and the audio (a bluetooth speaker made it loud enough for all to hear).

CLICK VIDEO TO RUN (FULL SCREEN AVAILABLE)

So, I wonder, would you have found your way?

With some daylight remaining before the bonfire lighting we decided to give the “paint bomb catapult” a go.  We had set up a water balloon catapult with the plan to pelt a 1m x 1m canvas with paint filled water balloons fired from the catapult.  It might have worked… if we had some better shots and some harder timber behind the canvas.  Instead, we reverted to 60ml syringes, paint tubes, cups and 20 kids (channeling Lord of the Flies on occasion) to decorate the canvas.

While Mac can’t do any of this physical stuff (until I build that switch adapted, self loading catapult) what he does get to enjoy is an amazing artwork, made by his mates, which will hang on his wall above his bed.

shot of the splatter artwork done by the kids. Lots of colour and splats of red smaller splats of green, purple, blue. To touch it would be fun there are some parts that sit almost 1 inch off the page.

The weather stayed fine and the wind didn’t pick up too much. So, the bonfire was lit, sparklers were had and bellies were fed.

one night shot of lots of kids with lit sparklers above their head, the other of the bonfire just starting to take off with kids sitting on a grassy knoll

We had an awesome day and were pleased to be able to give Mac a great party, but also thrilled to let all the kids enjoy the same sort of stuff I got to do as a kid growing up here on the farm.

So the next one isn’t needed until 16, right?

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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.

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fridge magnet friday…

Tanzania “gets it” it seems…

From the article “Eductation fund promotes inclusive education” by Masozi Nyirenda
The writer is a Specialist in Education Management, Economics of Education and Policy Studies.  Click the link above for the full article.  

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Old fashioned fridge door image with a poster showing the text "Inclusive education helps to reduce discrimination, enhance cooperation, creativity, capacity building, improved communication skills, awareness of disabilities, improved support and care, and improved policies for children with disabilities and those without disabilities, parents, teachers and the general community."When you put it like that it’s hard to reconcile there are people who actively reject those benefits for themselves, their community and for the broader society.

 

 

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happy fourth…

retro postcards greetings from Orlando & greetings from Los Angeles

We enjoyed our first ever Fourth of July in the USA last week.

Taking a weeks holiday on the way home from the Society for Disability Studies annual conference in Orlando, Florida we got to experience some wonderful times with great people both in Orlando and LA.

In true form we didn’t miss the opportunity to “pimp” Mac’s wheelchair – he was well and truly ready to celebrate in style with the rest of the USA.  A couple of flags some cut up plastic tablecloths woven to represent the USA flag on his wheels and his chair was right to go.

side shot of Mac's manual chair showing two small USA flags on each handle and the wheels with stylised/woven plastic to emulate the US Flag, woven red and white stripes on 3/4 of the spokes and blue woven with tiny white knots on 1/4

The exciting part was we actually got to participate IN the local parade with our friends and their friends who also had international visitors staying.  We helped decorate a ’66 Ford pickup, decked ourselves out in flag shirts from Old Navy and sat back and enjoyed the ride.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

four pics inline 3 kids meeting Santa dressed in shorts and waistcoat with sleigh in background, Gina+Shawn+Mac family shot wearing USA tee shirts, Mac side on in wheelchair with two friends sitting on curb using his foot switches to chat, and the Ford truck with streamers and signs and our crew in the back for the parade.

US flag merging into Aussie flag with stylised text "thanks for the memories"

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in which the protagonist becomes the advocate…

“That’s unjust” Mac’s classmate told the teacher.

It wasn’t a obvious or major incident according to the teacher, but Mac’s peer was entirely right.  It seems everyone in the class had just been given some sort of choice or option in class and Mac wasn’t offered the same opportunity.

Hence the declaration to the teacher, by Mac’s mate, that it was “unjust”.  Mac’s teacher agreed the student was absolutely right.  Mac’s teacher, Mr B, as he always does, took it on the chin and notched another one up to the “ongoing learning opportunities” you get when Mac is in your class.  More delightfully, Mr B, shared the incident with me, clearly showing a sense of pride that his students will speak up when things aren’t “just”.

Oh, and you might remember this classmate from this post: https://inkyed.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/a-good-friend-to-me/

Now nine years old, he has grown into a considerate, delightful young man with (clearly) an innate sense of social justice.

A good friend indeed.

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exposure…

Last week Mac made the trek to UOW (Dad’s University) for his participation in a session on ‘exposure to people with disabilities’.

You can read about the where/what/why here on Shawn’s most recent blog post over at Disability + Media Matters.

At the end of the session we gave an extra bit of ‘secret Mac business’ to these future journos by sharing a couple of our ‘tried and tested’ tips on how to photograph a group shot when “someone in the shot”, courtesy of some ‘not so great head control’, is often looking in the opposite direction to the rest of the group.

Seems like such a minor thing (and some might say superficial)… but could a poorly considered shot be enough for that person to be devalued in the eyes of another, could it send the message that they “aren’t even aware of their surroundings” and therefore “really disabled” rather than someone simply having poor head control?

EXAMPLE ONE:  point & shoot…

Traditional shot where you expect to have the whole group ‘looking down the barrel’

As you can see, Mac is NOT looking at the camera, in this instance it actually looks like he is looking at me so isn’t too bad, but what other techniques can we use?

Group shot with all looking at the camera except for 9 year old Mac.

EXAMPLE TWO: every which way but front…

Potentially a more social and natural looking shot than the one above.  The person with the disability isn’t the ‘stand out’ as the only person not looking at the camera.  Certainly works much better when the shot is actually in focus. 😉

Group photo with everyone looking in a different direction.

EXAMPLE THREE:  follow Mac’s eyes…

This is my favourite, particularly when you get a run of three or so pics in succession.   Basically, the photographer (or a buddy beside them) will tell everyone where to look based on where Mac is looking.  We have plenty of birthday cake shots with everyone looking to the same spot Mac is – which is rarely at the cake –  it’s much more fun imagining what may have had everyone’s attention when you look back years later.  Once again, the person with the disability isn’t the only one looking away, it’s much more “look, is it a bird, is it a plane…” by the entire group.

A group shot where the group are directed to look wherever the pwd is looking, so all eyes focussed on the same 'off camera' spot.

So, there it is, “Secret Mac Business” and, in the words of my husband, “consider yourselves exposed”.

Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

 

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the “wee three” at school camp

I could see them scooting along from the other side of the playground, three boys, one pushing Mac in his wheelchair, the other running beside.  There was a look of intent on their faces, they knew where they were headed… I had no such insight.

Across the basketball court, along the path, turn, oops steady the chair, back on the path, down another level, now heading away from me.

It’s too early for lunch, I thought… why are they headed down to the dining hall?

Across the pavement, turn again, sharp right, and then…
straight into the boys toilets.BoysToiletSign

It dawned on me… you know I have never taken Mac into a boys toilet block.  I guess you don’t when a) you are female and b) they aren’t actually accessible.

I chuckled as I thought about the fact there was no hesitation that Mac went with them, the other two (or one… who can be sure) obviously needed to go, so they all went.
I never considered part of Mac having an ordinary and inclusive life would mean going with his mates “to the dunny¹ for a leak².

As they were heading back into the playground Mac’s aide & I walked up to them and said, “we might take Mac to get ready for canoeing and go to the toilet” (adult code for diaper change).

“We just went” was the response by Mac’s mates in unison…

“Did Mac go?” we asked (somewhat bemused).

“Oh, nah, he didn’t, just us” they said flippantly, “alright then” they offered as they gave Mac up to Miss M and scooted back off to where they were going.

I love that they didn’t think twice about Mac being with them, I love they presumed they’d all gone since they were all in there, and I love they weren’t even the slightest bit phased by Mac ‘not going’.  It was more a case of “nah, he didn’t get his act together to go” rather than “OMG how would that even work”.

But, more than anything, I love that by being in amongst his peers Mac learns more age appropriate boy stuff than I could ever teach him.

___________________________

1. dunny: Australian slang term for any toilet/lavatory 
2. leak:  slang for urinating

 

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