Blogger's Note: Correction to my last blog entry. Oscar Pistorius was not the only paralympic athelete to be in London's Olympics this year. Meet Natalia Partka.
I wanted to start by saying thank you to everyone who commented on the last blog entry. The stories and positive emotion behind universally designed opportunities melted my heart and brought back many memories. The names may be different but the heart of the matter is united.
As I enjoy the lull in Olympics coverage I was very disheartened to learn that we as a society may not have made the advances in the world of inclusion and universal design as originally hoped. Over the summer I made light hearted comments when people would bring their children to our summer program that they did not have to look for the back door, our students are welcomed through the front door. You see, in the history of special education those students with disabilities found themselves either going in to school through a separate entrance or being educated in rooms which were in the far reaches of the school community. I still remember fellow students in 8th grade going to the trailer during certain classes (yet at the time I didn't know where they went or why).
What are we as a nation saying to our atheletes and children when they just finished watching non-stop coverage of the Olympics on NBC and they find out that the "other" Olympics are not on TV in the United States, let me clarify they are on for 1 hour a day. These athletes worked just as hard and have stories which are just as heart wrenching and empowering as those we saw each night on television. I write this in hopes that television executives learn to take a similar approach to ours when it comes to programming for children with special needs. If 20% of America has a diagnosed disability than 20% of your organization's programs should be made available to those with disabilities, if you don't have the capacity to make 100% of your programs available to everyone. In the case of the Paralympics, especially since they are taped, don't these athletes and families deserve the opportunity of being on 20% of the network programming schedule from August 29th through September 9th? I believe both the athletes leaving London and those traveling to London wish each other's athletic competitions to be on a stage for all the world to marvel. Instead we are left up to our eyeballs in fake reality TV shows. A very sad commentary for the mainstream that claims to be empathetic and accepting of minorities.
If you would like to follow the Paralympics with me go to: http://www2.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics.aspx
You can also follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/usparalympics
Lets hope for more Paralympians breaking into the Olympics in Rio and appropriate television coverage in 2016.
Who am I and what do I do?
I am the father of three children, husband to a very special woman, and work as a Social entrepeneur supporting children with disabilities, the families who love them, and professionals who serve them.
I was born and raised in Southeastern CT (Hanover to be exact). Went to Hofstra University and graduated with an interest in developmental psychology. After interning and becoming a certified Special Education teacher I worked as a special education teacher, district behavior consultant, and assistive technology coordinator.
In July of 2009 I left teaching to reach for my dream to be an effective positive influence on familes, school districts, and service providers across the region, something not possible in the classroom.
Early in 2009 Synergy Center was created, followed by Sensations Charitable Foundation as vehicles to support families with social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Since their creation we have made a positive difference in the lives of more than 200 families, teachers, and service providers.
Working with Patch is an opportunity to continue our work and connect people to information and services their families need to be their best, yet may not find in through typical channels. As I say to people who either help our cause or come to us for support - Let's Play!