It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Summer of Stares: Part III

No, you're not crazy if you don't remember me posting part I or II, there aren't such posts. This post is titled part III because this is the 3rd such summer in a row. I've been in summer school for 6 out of the last 8 summers. I'm not allowed to work and I need to be occupied. If I wasn't in summer school I don't know what I'd do with myself. this is the 3rd summer because it is the 3rd summer in summer school here.

Why do I call these summers "the summers of stares?" Well, because I get stared at several times a day 5 days a week. Honestly, it's gotten old. This campus has at least 4 camps that run throughout the summer. Maybe more. And that's not including summer cheerleading camp for high schoolers and such. We're infested with kids. Kids who like to stare at me like I'm some sort of side show circus freak.

You know it's not so bad when adults or big kids stare. They don't stare. They glance. It's just an ever so slight glance in my direction and then they're on they're way. In fact, I can't even prove that they're looking at me because I look funny. I'm hard on my feet when I walk and I clip my keys to the outside of my purse. Because of the way that I walk, they make a lot of noise. They may just be wondering what's making the racket. When I'm in the chair speeding along at 6mph, not only are they wondering what that noise is, but they realize they need to get out of the way. I don't like when people don't get out of the way. Thankfully that's not often. I love going fast. It's the only time when I'm faster then everybody else and I doubt the thrill of that is ever going to go away.

But back to kids. Kids stare. The turn their head very sharply 90 degrees in my direction and lock their gaze on me while still walking straight in the direction they're going in. As an aside, I don't know how they can do that. I can't. It might be somewhat dangerous. It's not so bad in the grocery store or in the mall. Their parents are there and they don't let them stare all that long. Also it's probably only one kid, and since I spend most of my time on campus or in my friends' apartment and not in public places (poor college student, can't afford to) it's not so often. But camp counselors have too many kids to look after. They're not paying any attention to me or the fact that one kid in their group is staring at me. As I said, right now we're infested with kids. It's one kid probably yes, but that's one kid per group. You have no idea how many groups cross my path within the course of a day.

School ended sometime last week so all the camps started Monday. As I was walking to the library to use the computer (still don't have my new one yet). I got my first stare of the summer. And I got really upset. Part of me can't understand why I'm so upset. I've grown up with people staring at me. It's just a part of who I am, the same as having blond hair. But this summer is different for me. This summer I'm bipolar. I'm just dealing with so much right now (although I'm happy to say I'm improving very nicely) that I don't need to deal with this on top of everything else. I just don't need to be stared at like I'm a circus freak M-F. Maybe I could get a neon sign to float over my head everywhere I go that points straight at me and reads simply "not a circus freak." Although, I think that might backfire. I think I'd get more stares with a gigantic neon sign over my head.

It's just a damn shame that these camps don't have inclusion programs. I went to camp from when I was 3 to when I was 16. The vast majority of the camps that I went to had inclusion programs. Even the camp I went to in the late 80s. I started there in '88. It's been 20 years. C'mon people. Get with the program. I even started an inclusion program at one camp. The director wanted to start an inclusion program and knew me, so the summer before (when I was 9) she used me as her guinea pig. I loved that camp and I loved the drama day camp I went to before that. I didn't go to there for the inclusion program. I went there because I simply loved the camps. It just so happens that no one stared at me there. That's a good thing.

Those kids are missing out on so much. I worked at a camp one summer (the camp I went to at 3) which still has an inclusion program. There was a kid in my group with aspergers syndrome, a kid with a mild LD, a kid with a rare genetic disorder who had his own nurse come to camp with him because he was tube fed and such, and a girl with CP that was so severe that she was in a chair, non-verbal, had to be fed, and was 13 I think and still in diapers. In other groups of the same age range there was a kid with CP in a powerchair who could talk and feed himself, a kid deathly allergic to peanuts (I consider that a disability), a kid in a chair who was recovering from some kind of orthopedic surgery, and another kid who I think has CP who was in a chair, walked sometimes, made noises but not words, had to be fed, but was potty trained I believe, and had several seizures throughout the summer. The AB kids wanted to hang out with the disabled kids. They were very concerned when the girl had seizures, and one kid who was a great swimmer actually begged to be placed in the lower swim group so he could be with the kid with the genetic disorder who was his best friend. There was no staring at that camp. The AB kids never thought twice about the disabled kids being there. It was camp. It was just the way things were, the same as me having blond hair.

Maybe that's why I'm so upset about being stared at? Because it's 2008 and it's not supposed to be this way anymore.


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