I had a fairly good childhood. I was bullied a bit in elementary school, but as far as bullying goes it was pretty mild. In high school I became sort of a floater. I wasn’t really popular. I didn’t get invited to the “cool” parties and the in- crowd didn’t spend much time noticing I was alive. However, I wasn’t really unpopular or “weird” either. I mean I was weird, totally weird, but bullying wasn’t a huge issue in my school and I wasn’t that kind of weird. I had groups of friends from a few different cliques, but I never really felt like I fit in 100% to any of them. Although I was generally liked, I felt a bit like an outsider a lot of the time. This feeling intensified as I struggled with depression and grief. When I developed asthma I inched a bit further outside of that “normal” range. I thought I understood what it meant to be the one that didn’t fit in. That was until I moved to Mexico. Now fitting in has taken on a whole new meaning.
I know what it fees like to be discriminated against at work based on a disability. I have heard the thinly veiled excuses and the felt the drastic shift in attitude towards me. I didn’t press the matter, but I probably could have had I wanted to. In my case it was regarding a temporary issue, which made me even more frustrated. I wasn’t quite as productive while I was ill as I would have been at 100%, but I was fully trained and still carrying a considerable work load. It wasn’t only morally wrong to pick on me, but financially stupid as well. It’s human nature to want to contribute and feel valuable, and everyone who is capable should be allowed to work and support themselves. But, when we take emotions and ideals out of the equation, what are we left with and how should we navigate through it?
Handicapped parking is one of those issues that tends to bring out the very best and the very worst in people. Some people think it’s essential, while others think it’s a waste of space. I think most people would agree that those who are disabled should have the same rights and opportunities as those are able bodied, but disagreements arise when trying to decide the best way to ensure that that happens. And of course, should everyone who has a disability qualify for a parking pass? Who decides? These are difficult questions with difficult answers.
While reading my alumni magazine for the University of Guelph I came across Project Revision. The project, which is led by Carla Rice, a professor in U of G’s Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, “uses arts-based methods to dismantle stereotypical understandings of disability and difference that can create barriers to healthcare, education, and inclusion in society.”