Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
By Joel Green, President and CEO, Community Services Council of New Hampshire
Those who live with a disability are still largely not part of our communities.
Yes, many individuals live within our physical neighborhoods but yet they are still not socially part of our lives. We the community power brokers are not part of their lives in the truest sense. Yes, there are exceptions and I have seen amazing examples of inclusion that can serve as models for us all. But as a whole, we have not reached the tipping point where we do not hesitate to have those we see as disabled or different be a major part of our lives.
So, how do we connect and bring those living on the edges into the larger community? I think we need to find what is most common that we all can share together. Let's take the disability thinking out of the equation and remove it as an imprisoning obstacle. We can think more about the larger community as our clients, so to speak.
Approach the challenge by considering areas and activities that interest us and services we all need to experience and use together, not separately defined by our perceived differences. For example, as Ruth Gordon said in the cult classic Harold and Maude, "Music is the cosmic dance."
Music does not exclude, it includes, because we all just have to listen together, which can break down barriers, thus possibly moving us to dance together. We can also create art together because we all have something to express and so we can paint together, draw together, make film and take pictures.
So often people with disabilities are told they are doing something wrong or why or what they did is not right. There is no wrong or right in art, only what we make of it. If we make it readily available and fun for all those who participate, there is one less activity designated ability specific.
We all need a ride somewhere. We all need libraries and other public services that shouldn't be separated by difference and are shared by our much stronger likeness.
The idea is to find what we share in common, and share it so it indeed becomes common to all of us. How can we include, instead of exclude, is the big question? What do we need to make it work?
For young people who may live with intellectual challenges or autism entering adult services, it is important that the adult service system becomes more creative. More expansive thinking about how we can redefine services as a much more integral system of connected activities may better serve the community as a whole.
Parents and other family members are asking us all for more and as it should be, not accepting less. With the waiting lists constantly and currently under threat as is overall funding, now is the time to think in a different way that is truly inclusive, by having all constituents around the table and all sectors of our communities as part of an expansive ISP/IED process.
We need to become better marketers of all the good work that is done in our isolated world and tell the story.
Families, providers and all stakeholders need to lead by example and as story tellers
in emphasizing that we all have a stake in a better and more inclusive community. I believe the creative arts community is a good place to start.
Joel has worked in human services for more than 30 years largely supporting people who live with intellectual challenges and their families. He is the President and CEO of Community Services Council of New Hampshire.
Last updated by Morgen Thiboult Sep 12, 2011.