Common Ground

George Martin shares his ideas about opening communities for people with disabilities to participate rather than creating segregated programs. This weekend I reviewed a section of my manuscript on advocacy. It dealt with finding common ground, even those with whom you strongly disagree. In this case I was discussing the staff at what used to be the state institution in Coldwater, Michigan.

I am reflecting on the tremendous investment in public dollars and volunteer time that was necessary to create and sustain an artificial community that had few of the qualities of what we know as community.

Then in Sunday’s Parade magazine, I read that Ernie Els, the internationally reknown golfer is helping to raise $30 million for a school in Florida only for children with autism. His motivation is to help his own child.

Not to question El’s motives or those of others devoted to this project, but I wonder how much closer it will bring those kids into the mainstream of their community life. And, I am thinking about how far $30 million would go toward opening up all communities in America so that kids and adults with autism and other disabilities could learn, work and play with people without autism.