We live in an accessible townhouse with a full basement. The basement is not accessible, it’s down a flight of stairs that might be considered a good place to practice for Everest. I’ve never been down there of course and am happy with the idea that I will never be. But all this vacant space is great for the building of a giant box fort prison.
From the moment they started Ruby and Sadie, when they come upstairs, come up with pictures of the construction of ‘basement Alcatraz’ so that I can see the work progress. It’s becoming kind of monster sized. I get to sit upstairs and listen to them laughing and talking excitedly as they come up with ways to make tunnels and secret passageways and ‘the story.’
‘The story’ varies from time to time but the subject is about how Ruby and Sadie, from their separate cells will manage to escape from their prison. The have to deal with the cameras and the alarm systems and the guards. Marissa and Joe are the bad guards. I, I am informed, am their ‘outside guy.’ Their plan, for the day that the break occurs, after the construction is done and the action begins, is that they will face time me on the phone and I will help them with ideas for breaking out and keep an eye out for the dastardly guards.
Some will see the story that I told as an example of inclusion.
I see it as a story that demonstrates what happens when exclusion is unthinkable.
There is a difference.
No one told the girls to include me.
No one suggested that they make sure that I’m part of it.
In their minds, from the start, I’m on the team and I’m part of the project. I think they would be offended if someone suggested that they ‘did a good job of including me’. They do it because they can’t imagine not doing it.
In our fight for a better world for people with disabilities and difference, we need to fight on two fronts. The world that we live in now, as it is presently socially constructed needs to be challenged to become inclusive, to intentionally make inclusion happen. It’s hard work. It’s good work. But we also have to be focused on raising kids, both as a responsibility of families but also of schools, such that exclusion isn’t ever an acceptable option. Not through lectures, but through active demonstration, every day, that all kids matter, that all kids deserve kindness.
Ruby and Sadie have been raised around all sorts of difference, but they’ve also been part of the discussions we’ve all had about accessibility for me and the planning it takes for us all to do what we all want to do. They’ve only ever heard the message that we’re all in.
Fight for Inclusion.
Create Aversion of Exclusion.
That’s the path to the future. I’m sure of it.