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Introduction, Session 3: Welcoming Superman

In "Faithful Journeys," a Tapestry of Faith program

One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion. — Simone de Beauvoir, 20th-century French author

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. — Christopher Reeve (1952-2004), actor, director and advocate for people with disabilities

This session uses the story of Unitarian Universalist Christopher Reeve to examine our first Unitarian Universalist Principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every person. After a fall from a horse, Reeve went from being an active, athletic man who portrayed Superman on-screen to losing the ability to move his body below the neck. Reeve went on to live a different kind of heroism as an advocate for research and support to help people with spinal cord injuries. He spoke to Congress and many other audiences. He founded the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which funds research on spinal cord injuries and offers grants to improve the lives of people who have become disabled.

Christopher Reeve's story serves as a springboard to issues of inclusion as children are guided to reflect on the ways we affirm the worth and dignity of every person. They learn how our congregations affirm our first Principle when we provide accessibility to people of differing abilities, and they consider what it means when we fail to provide such a welcome. Participants explore what they can accomplish without using physical abilities they ordinarily rely on. As they broaden their thinking about what constitutes "ability" or "disability," children also learn that each of us has the capacity to use our personal agency to do good in the world — no matter how we are "abled."

When the group conducts an accessibility audit of your congregational facility (Activity 6), use the perspective of whether we would be able to welcome Superman. This activity will be most effective using a wheelchair or a large stroller to test surfaces, thresholds, and inclines for accessibility.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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