Yesterday at work I watched a video about a program in Virginia that provides jobs for people with disabilities. (I work for the Horizon Achievement Centre, and this is part of my research.) It was a great video, and afterwards I scanned the list of videos on the right and clicked on one called “Inclusion, belonging and the disability revolution: Jennie Fenton at TEDxBellingen.”
It was great to watch, not least because I loved the speaker’s Australian accent, since I miss living Down Under. (It’s only been ten years, haha.) But the main reason the video was great, obviously, was the heartfelt stories that Jennie told about her daughter, Mala, and the journey they’re on as a family because of Mala’s disability. She talked about the things she has learned about disability and the shift she’s gone through.
At 7:37 on the video, something Jennie said really struck me, so I wrote it down to share with you all:
“Slowly I came to realize the importance of dreams. So I need to make sure my girl knows she’s loved, just how she is. And that she’ll be supported to follow her dreams, no matter how large or small. I also need to help her be able to communicate those dreams.
“And I now have the same dreams for my daughter as I do for my son. The way to live those dreams might be different, but the dreams themselves aren’t: Happiness. Health. Growth. Education. Travel. Meaningful employment. Community contribution. Friends. Family. Love. Home. Belonging.
“To put it another way, like most of you with your children, I believe my daughter could be the Prime Minister of this country. Now right now you may be thinking I’m a little bit delusional. That’s OK! ‘How could someone with the limitations that my daughter has around mobility, communication, and motor skills, ever have a real job? Or live in her own home? Or any of those things that most people take for granted.’ Well I know she can, because I love stories, and over the last few years I’ve been collecting stories about things that people with disability around the world are doing. Living real lives, in their communities. And there’s a profound shift happening.”
Have a great Thursday, friends!