The blog this week was written by Deborah Warfield, Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute. Everyone makes a valuable contribution to the community. Persons with disability have historically and continue to, on a daily basis, make contributions to community. In order for us to be the community that moves from lack of value to valuing everyone, we all must be willing to slow down, listen more and look deeper at the value that persons with disabilities bring to our community.
The Arcadia Institute starts off with assumptions that persons with disabilities can function in independent or inter-dependent living arrangements. We start off assuming that every person with a disability has gifts that would be a blessing somewhere in this community. We also start off with the assumption that every person with a disability deserves to be involved in meaningful activities of their choice. Along the journey towards inclusion, we overcome barriers and identify allies until we assist persons with disabilities in finding value being valued in various place and spaces in our community.
A community that values everyone opens themselves up to at least four areas: 1. Examining policies and procedures relative to inclusion. 2. Educating your organization about inclusion. 3. Experiencing authentic relationship-building with persons with disabilities. 4. Exposing you and your organization to alternative options and opportunities.
As I begin to close, think of the economic, social, physical and spiritual implications that expanding our openness of valuing everyone could have upon our community. Increase employment options, housing alternatives, more meaningful activities and overall improved quality of life.
My colleague, Jennifer reminded us last week that every person values basic needs and desires that include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ask yourself the following question, am I an asset or a barrier as it relates to valuing all persons within my own community in their search for improved quality of life?