May 12, 2010

Do you know what disabled means?

If you have time please check out this amazing speech by Aimee Mullens about disability and adversity. She is so empowering (and beautiful inside & out)!

She talks about the first time she looked up the word "disabled" in a thesaurus and all the horrible words she found such as "crippled, helpless, useless, wrecked, maimed, mangled, mutilated..."

Current definitions are not much better.

Disabled (adjective) blind, deaf, mute; halt, lame, paralyzed, quadriplegic, immobile, immobilized; ailing, diseased, ill, sick, unfit, unhealthy, unsound, unwell.

Hopefully you will think twice before giving a child that label.

The speech is about 20 minutes long so I realize most people won't watch it but here are some of my favourite quotes from Aimee:

"Its not just about the words. Its what we believe about people when we name them with these words. Its about the values behind the words and how we construct those values. Our language affects our thinking and how we view the world and how we view other people."

"Adversity isn't an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. Its part of our life. And I tend to think of it like my shadow. Sometimes I see a lot of it and sometimes there's very little. But its always with me."

"The question isn't whether or not you're going to meet adversity, but how you're going to meet it."

"Our responsibility is not simply shielding those we care for from adversity but preparing them to meet it well. And we do a disservice to our kids when we make them feel that they're not equipped to adapt."

"There's an important difference and distinction between the objective, medical fact of my being an amputee and the subjective, societal opinion of whether or not I'm disabled. And truthfully, the only real and consistent disability I've had to confront, is the world ever thinking that I could be described by those definitions."

"I think the only true disability is a crushed spirit...
If we can bolster human spirit to keep hope, to see beauty in themselves and others, to be curious and imaginative, then we can truly be using our power well."

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