This is my Masterpiece

This is my Masterpiece

Saturday, October 18, 2008

AmbassaBear for Special Needs Awareness

Today Gavin was the AbassaBear for the Ripon Community and Youth Commission Health Fair. He wore a bear costume and handed out bear squeeze-stress toys. I was there also (duh) but I worked our booth, Special Needs Advocates For Understanding (intentionally acronymed SNAFU). I am with him in the first photo and I am in the second photo. Our SNAFU President is with Gavin in the last photo.

Working an event like this brings a lot of awareness to destigmatizing disability. Today everyone just saw a cute bear, handing out hugs and toys, with a quick smile and a strong high-5. So often we are afraid of what we don't know, so getting to know Gavin as a hugable bear helps people remember him warmly. So many people came up to me telling me how sweet he is, that he is adorable, a cutie, a doll. This connectivity makes it much easier to ask for inclusion in school, and activities in our community. Today my primary responsibility was to talk with people who are concerned their child or a child they care about "may" have a disability and to talk to people who need help navigating the maze of services available to children with disabilities. Sometimes it is just someone to talk to that has a similar experience, so they can ask the questions of what it is like for me. Are our experiences similar? If so then we feel better about the way we are feeling. We search for "normal" even as our awareness that we are no longer tethered to normal becomes so clear. Similar becomes our new normal. Fortunately, there is a bear-hug nearby.

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