The blog this week was written by Wendy Hutchison, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute. I am a new member to the team at the Arcadia Institute. When I was planning to join this organization in July, I read their Mission Statement: Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community. This mission not only sounded inviting and friendly, it made me want to be a part of this organization.
I decided to look up the definitions of welcomed, supported and respected. ~ welcomed -- meet or receive with pleasure ~ supported -- to maintain by supplying with things necessary for existence ~ respected -- esteem for or sense of the worth or excellence of a person
It is difficult to separate these three, they seem to compliment each other and together become a package with which we treat others. I remember the saying my parents always told me as a child: treat others as you would like to be treated. This seemed so obvious and simple. There are so many things we take for granted on a daily basis, ways of life that just seem common sense...like treating someone with respect and welcoming and supporting them. These are things we do for our friends, neighbors, family and even people we merely encounter at the grocery store and at the gym. We smile as we pass strangers and open a door for a senior. It seems natural that we would treat everyone in a welcoming manner, to support them and respect them, regardless if they have a disability. The truth is that many of us have some struggles in life; whether it is physical, mental, emotional, learning or social. Most of these are invisible to the human eye.
In my first couple months, I have witnessed and experienced this mission through the words and actions of my co-workers, with everyone they encounter. And the welcoming, supporting and respect is individualized if necessary to make the communication understood and real. For some, it is simple and immediate, for others it requires a little bit of trust from both sides to make it real. but the effort is there. This may be a result of individuals not grown up or always experienced being welcomed, supported and respected by others.
Welcoming, supporting and respecting come with greater ease in a small community. A community of family, school, church or maybe neighborhood. The challenge and work comes with expanding that to the entire community with which individuals live and contribute; new places an individual may experience. As we continue to pursue our mission, hopefully we will make it something every person, with both disabilities and abilities, can feel is a part of every day and one day take for granted.