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
IN TODAY'S SESSION... We focused on the Unitarian Universalist actor, director and activist Christopher Reeve, who died in 2004. We talked about how many people thought of Christopher Reeve as a superhero because he played Superman on the big screen. However, Reeve became a different kind of superhero after a riding accident left him a quadriplegic. His loss of mobility became the springboard for his activism. He spoke out in favor of stem cell research and created a nonprofit research and advocacy foundation. The children played a game that helped them think about how they might complete a task without the abilities that ordinarily help them do it. They did an accessibility audit of our congregation to see how our facility welcomes, or fails to welcome, people with disabilities. Our signpost to help guide us was "Include Everyone."
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... Do members of your immediate or extended family have disabilities? To include them fully, what actions do you or could you take? For instance, have you built a ramp so a wheelchair-user can visit your home? Are there people to whom children may need to talk more loudly or clearly? Do you need to make sure you are facing people who are hard of hearing when you talk with them? Identify the personal agency each of your family members does or could use to honor the inherent worth and dignity of every person through inclusion.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try... There are many kinds of abilities and disabilities. Explore together the particular gifts members of your family may have, such as being good at music or sports, or being good with language or writing stories. How do you share these gifts with the world? Everyone also has areas in which they struggle, from a poor sense of direction or a tendency to misplace items to learning disabilities that make it difficult to read or do math. How does your family help each other overcome or live with your limitations?
Watch the 1978 film, Superman: The Movie, starring Christopher Reeve, as a family.
A FAMILY GAME
In today's session, an "Another Way Relay" asked participants to do tasks without using abilities they usually rely on. Some had to cross the room without using their feet, pick up a slip of paper without using their hands, and return to their team without using their feet. Other children took the slip of paper from their teammate without using their hands, and communicated the instructions printed on the slip to a third teammate without using their voices. The third child had to figure out what the task was and complete it, which also involved using different abilities than the child would usually depend on (such as turning on a light switch without using their hands). At home, adapt this game by asking each family member to come up with a task for another family member to complete without using the ability that would first come to mind. For instance, pass a ball from person to person without using hands, cross the living room without using feet, or use pictures rather than words to convey an idea.
See an online list of books for children that deal with disabilities.
Review the Teaching Tolerance website featuring activities about disabilities.