It is not our differences that divide us; it is our inability to recognise, accept and celebrate those differences.
Every human being on the planet is born an individual; there is not a finger print on a single hand that is the same. Yet, in 2018, we live in culture that holds a candle to conformity. When this becomes the dynamic, for those who are different, it can be a dangerous time to be on the planet.
Segregation, exclusion, judgement.
But what is it to feel different? Perhaps you live with a disability: physical, sensory, psychiatric, neurological, cognitive and intellectual. Others may feel they stand out for entirely different reasons – race, ethnicity, religious belief, sexual persuasion. Even political beliefs can set someone apart.
Whatever the reason a person stands out from the crowd, no one deserves exclusion.
Everyone deserves to experience it’s opposite – inclusion.
Misa Alexander’s middle son, Hugo, lives with mild autism and an intellectual disability. In the playground Misa would watch other children regard his behaviours – which included shrieking and spinning - with curiosity. She watched her son’s exclusion from play, from friendships. She saw a trajectory of exclusion spreading out before her son and a fire ignited within her. It started with a flyer in the pockets of all parents in Hugo’s pre-school. This is my son, she told them. This is how he may act throughout the day, and this is why he acts this way.
It worked. The parents talked to their children and slowly, Hugo’s life of inclusion began.
But more was needed. She collaborated with author, Erin Knutt, and together they created Fergus and Delilah, which Misa illustrated. The book turned into a website, and the website became a tool kit that any school or educator can use.
Today Hugo attends a public school, and his mother is a full time Inclusion Advocate, not just for her son, but for anyone who stands out from the crowd.
Surely all of us should seek to stand out? Stand out for what we believe, for who we love and for who are. Teach our children to celebrate difference in others as well as themeselves. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have Misa proudly declare that she’s out of a job? We think so.
Author and Podcast Producer: Kimberley Lipschus
NE PLUS ULTRA
The authors of this segment are varied, each post will indicate the author of that particular post. For more information about our team, visit here