As we get close to wrapping up the month of Awareness & Acceptance, also known as October we think to ourselves is our work done? NO! You see we shout the worth of our friends with Down syndrome ALL year long. We are inviting one of our favorite guest bloggers, a playhouse mom, and a powerhouse of a friend Beth back to leave us with some thoughts that we can carry into the coming months to help us all look at awareness and acceptance with clear eyes, and then make any needed changes. How wonderful it is to always get to learn and grow together!
I am a first-grade teacher. Recently I was on the playground with a teacher friend who teaches first grade in the inclusive room. We were out there on the frontlines, doing what teachers do, sharing war stories. I brought up Judah and eventually, we ventured into the territory of toileting. I kept saying how badly I felt for those who had to change Judah and how I hoped he would be potty-trained soon.
At this point, my teacher friend uttered something that would alter everything. She replied,
” oh I don’t even think of it like that. I think of the child, and how weird it must be to have their teacher change them. I feel bad for the kid.”
And that, my friends, is Acceptance.
My friend at GiGi’s asked me to write a blog post spotlighting the difference between Acceptance and Awareness a while back. I was unsure of what to write and really was kind of jumbled in the difference of semantics. But when my colleague presented me her words, it was as clear as Judah’s bonus chromosome. Awareness would be her recognizing that she teaches a child with special needs. Acceptance is empathizing with those needs and adjusting to make the child more comfortable.
Acceptance is taking off your shoes at the door of a disability and trying on different ones for a while. It requires an empathetic heart, intuition, and above all else kindness.
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I think when we are just aware we may not be doing enough. We notice, we recognize, and we may or may not be a friend.
But when we accept, we are more than friendly. We are generous with our time, our words, and our heart. We are because we are moved to do so. We consider our fellow humans, regardless of ability, and how we can help them. It stops being about us and starts being about making the world better; the greater good. We become an ally.
And the beautiful thing is, we all have that ability within us. Kindness courses through all of our veins. It requires us to slow down, to step outside of ourselves, and recognize where we are needed. We’ve had a lot of practice doing just that during this pandemic.
Here’s the great thing about kindness and acceptance. The giver gets a gift too. They may get to fight for a cause, grow, learn something… and if they’re lucky, they may get a new friend out of the deal.
Judah has opened my eyes to a new world; a world full of caring, helpful, kind, and accepting human beings who love Judah for exactly who he is. And he deserves that.
We all do.
Have you taken the I Accept You Pledge yet? Today is the day! Head over to IAcceptYou.org today and sign the pledge, then check out all the tools that can you use in your child’s classroom, your workplace and more to help spread true acceptance!