By Abby Braithwaite
I wanted to take a few moments to talk about the businesses and individuals who have supported the inclusion movement over the past few years. We would not have achieved all that we have without the trust and support of some fabulously talented individuals.
Since joining the NWDSA board four years ago, my work has mainly fallen into two categories: new parent outreach, and the All Born (In) movement. On the one hand, I help run the Open Arms Playgroups, welcoming new families into our community, and on the other I work to create a public face for the All Born (In) movement as it expands out into the broader community. Both of these areas are incredibly rewarding, and while they feel disparate at times, they are in fact quite complementary.
In my work with new families, I enjoy the opportunity to share my passion for inclusion and how it has been successful in our family, and I encourage others to dream with us as we forge ahead in our work to create a more inclusive world for all people. There is no easier, more intuitive time to practice inclusion than in the first years of a child’s life; the family is the first and most natural inclusive setting a person will encounter. We empower families to believe that inclusive settings work for daycare, preschool, and the world beyond. It is exciting to watch families gain the strength to believe that their child can and should be included in the world. Every empowered parent is another advocate for inclusion. Every successful child is another illustration of why inclusion works.
But if we are going to be successful as parents, this work to create a more inclusive society needs to extend beyond our families; we need to be able to ask the world around us to join us in the fight. In order to create the All Born (In) photo exhibit and calendar, we have relied on the incredible generosity of artists and professionals in our community. These people often do not have the same direct connection to someone with a disability that we parents enjoy, but none-the-less they are willing to sit with us, listen and learn, and trust us enough to devote incredible quantities of time, creativity and effort to our projects.
This buy-in from local artists and businesses has gone far beyond the level of non-profit discounts and feel-good pro-bono work. I can safely say that the individuals who have worked with us on these projects have taken our message on as their own, and continue to share it with others in big and small ways in the their work in the larger community.
A special thanks to:
- Jodi Collins of Urban Photography for the beautiful photographs that launched the photo gallery and calendar
- Alex Harris for artistic direction and design on the photo gallery banners
- Bryan Dalton for design support on the banner project
- Giuseppe Lipari of Studio Lipari and Someday Lounge for design and artistic direction on the 2009 All Born (In) Calendar
- Joshua Dommermuth of Quixotic Images for photos to expand the gallery and calendar
- John Campbell, photographer, for continued expansion of the exhibit
- Alex Burson for design of this newsletter
It is their generosity and willingness to listen that give me the conviction that my work with parents is worthwhile, that this world we believe in is possible. I am far more comfortable encouraging parents to join me in inclusive advocacy because I know that there are people out there, a few steps removed from the world of disability advocacy, who understand our mission, and who are willing to work along side us to create a better world.