More is being discovered about disabilities than before and more is being done to help children feel accepted. The audience that I am targeting is college students that are surrounded by people with disabilities but do not understand what they go through and the challenges they face every day that others may not even think about. Why are children with disabilities still falling short of their goals? There are so many opportunities in the world to achieve greatness, but many have trouble experiencing those opportunities such as playing sports, doing well in school, and making friends by having normal social interactions. Disabled people are the same as you and me because we all have challenges to some extent. It is not a reason to segregate those that are restricted physically or mentally denying them basic needs to development.
Since I was little I was always taught to treat everyone as equal because we all have different strengths and weaknesses giving us a different calling in the world. My cousins Sofia and Jacob Spence both have disabilities of their own. Sofia has limitations with her hands, she was born with limited fingers and toes. Jacob was born with a severe form is autism. Both of my cousins were put up for adoption in Korea because of their disabilities, but were welcomed into a loving home to my Aunt and Uncle. My Aunt and Uncle were well aware of their disabilities when they were adopted and the adoption agency in Korea encourage them to not adopt my cousins due to their disabilities, my aunt and uncle obviously did not listen. If neither of my cousins were adopted by my Aunt and Uncle there was a very large chance they would have never been adopted and eventually be on the streets. Sofia and Jacob know that they are different, but have learned to accept it. Sofia knows that she is not going to be able to participate in every sport or activity but always loves trying new things. She never saw herself as different until she was in third grade when people started questioning her about her hands and the limited ability to participate in sports or writing and coloring during class. Jacob will never have a normal life just like Sofia but in a more radical sense. He attends school at a Catholic High School with programs for the disabled so he does not lose out on the important interactions with others.
Disabled children may be held back because of education; some people still think that disabled and abled children should separate. The ‘Canadian Associations for Community Living’ suggests, “When children with disabilities learn alongside their peers, they are more likely to: continue in education, get a job, and be included and valued in their communities”. There are many opinions about this topic, but limiting what children learn in the curriculum separates them, making learning significantly different and more difficult for children to be successful in any form of higher education or getting a job in the real world.
Children want to experience new things as they grow up and so many disabled children loose that opportunity due to limited activities available to them. Sofia and Jacob cannot participate in every activity, but they continue to try because they have interests and passions just like everyone. There is a lack of insight about how to involve disabled people to play with the non-disabled sometimes not giving them a chance at all. Exercise is a very important part of the development for children and not having a chance to exercise may lead to many unhealthy effects making a strong argument to keep all kids active. Any form of getting your body moving is a way to release stress, increase self-esteem, and over all benefit one’s health. Sofia has the ability to play soccer and swim, but loves to play volleyball and basketball but will never be able to due to her limitations. She knows she will never be able to play some sports, but she continues to try new things based on her interest and her capabilities. Jacob however loves anything that involves action, however he is very restricted on the activities he can participate in because many teams do not know how to interact with a person with autism. Consequently, he is not welcomed on many teams.
Social interaction with others is also a major component to a person’s development and having that stripped away causes children to be less susceptible to form connections and be able to get a job later in life. When you meet a person for the first time appearance is the first thing others looks at, not who you truly are as a person and that can throw people off at times because it is different. Sofia and Jacob look different than others and are often not given the same opportunities because of their appearances, but still need the interaction with friends besides the family they see at home to continue growth in the brain.
The idea that a child has not met their fullest potential is not about how great they are academically, it is about providing them with every opportunity to try and learn new things that allow them to develop to their fullest potential. After all, we all have strengths and weaknesses that is why after college with specialize in something based on our strengths and always continue to learn to strengthen our weaknesses. The phrase, “nothing sadder than being in a wheelchair” (Jen and Greg), should not be something that is said anymore. Being different is powerful, you have a different outlook on life because after all being the same as everyone around you makes the world boring and surrounding yourself with unique personalities allows you to be the person that you want to be.