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!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Made a Difference (A Disability Awareness Month Post)

Yesterday afternoon I was somehow drawn to point my web browser here. I don't know why I would do something so torturous to myself but I did. If you go way down on the page it says

[the powerpoint slide, right, says "Disability & The Human Service Worker October 24th 2007"
The department collaborates with community agencies to sponsor workshops and professional and family education. Annual events include a Disability Awareness Workshop [emphasis mine] a Supervisor Training Workshop, and a workshop in partnership with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on relevant issues for families living with childhood cancer.
So of course I was drawn to click on the link below that, which leads to a page that has a whole blurb on the workshop:
Disability Awareness Workshop

This workshop is held each October [for national disability awareness month] and is designed to raise student awareness and understanding of individuals with disabilities. In addition, participants are informed about available resources and potential careers. In 2010, over 180 undergraduate students, faculty and community professionals attended. The 2011 Workshop will be held on Wednesday, October 26. This year's featured speaker is Alison Malmon, founder and executive director of Active Minds. This nonprofit organization develops and supports student-run chapters at colleges and universities in order to educate students and raise awareness of mental-health issues.
If you click on the tags "independent study" and "workshop planning" below, you'll note that this workshop was my baby. I initiated it a week before Thanksgiving 2006. It took until March until I found out I was approved to do it. I waited four long agonizing months, and then spent 7 more agonizing months planning it. It was arguably the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. I spent most of those 7 months running around like a chicken with its head cut off. But it was worth it. It was phenomenal.

[The 2007 student panel. Please don't ask me why there are no men there. ARGH!]

This is something I wanted to work and be so successful that it would continue, and clearly it has. On the feedback sheets I got comments such as:
"I feel this seminar has changes my outlook on my field in family studies"

"it is critical that the public be made more aware of workshops like this one. I would suggest that professionals spread the word in some way perhaps and evening at a religious institution (church, synagogue, etc.), a fraternal organizations, etc."

"very nice idea! I really enjoyed myself! Even if you are not going to be working with people with disabilities it is beneficial to be informed about society and life"

Looking at MY WORKSHOP (for it will always be my workshop) placed so prominently on the department's website makes me feel good, of course, but it also makes me feel horrible. It makes me feel horrible because I have done nothing with my life since then. My life is one giant pit of nothingness. A person who can change the world like that, that person should...

I stopped myself from finishing that sentence. It won'tever do me any good to finish it. Instead of dwelling on what I should have accomplished since then, I thought about what I did accomplish. I singlehandedly, just by getting mad one day (that post gives a good breakdown the workshop) and deciding to fill a hole in the instruction of many students who will go on to become professionals working with disabled individuals, changed the lives of thousands of people.

2011 will be the 5th annual (!!!!!!!) Disability & The Human Service Worker workshop, and I imagine by the end of this month about 700 students and professionals will have attended the 3hr workshop at least once. If it still does what it's supposed to, if the workshop still brings a lifespan multidimensional view to disability, if it still focuses on peers in a way that a clear connection is made between disability and the audience's (majority 18-23 year olds) life; if people still learn that disability is not a tragedy, that it is many things, least of which is a diagnosis; if people still learn to look at the individual first and what that individual can offer, instead of the narrow view of disability many had before, imagine what kind of impact that can have.

[right, a crowd shot of the 2007 workshop]

Whether or not you chose to work in a clear cut disability related job, disability is everywhere. Imagine just how many clients each of those individuals will come in contact with over the 40 years they will be working, and how differently they will interact with those clients and their families. The positive impact of a three hour workshop won't last for all 700 people, I'm not delusional (It clearly didn't make much or any of an impact for some that were already professionals [and that's just one example of their horribleness, check out some more]) but even if it has made a lasting impact for just 100 people, look at what an impact I made on the world. Look at what an impact just 1 person can make on the world.

When I look back at myself at that time I do so with a large degree of detachment. I don't see me at all (although clearly I'm the one in the pony tail in that second picture), and I can't figure out what being possessed me. I don't see myself as someone who can execute small things, like hygiene and basic cleaning. Forget about changing the lives of thousands. Who me? NAH! You're delusional. Not me! But clearly I did -- it's right there on the website.

And if I did it once, I can do it again. Even if I am a few years rusty. It's not about what a person should have done, it's about what a person can do. And clearly I can do. Even though most of the time I think I can't. I need to remember what I did, and stop focusing on all I didn't.

"One person can make a difference. And everyone should try." ~JFK


intercision said...

You are a strong person. I'm sure you accomplished something since then even if it doesn't seem like it had a lot of impact.

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