Respect for People Living with Disability is of Paramount Importance
On Saturday, 18th November 2016, while taking breakfast in my house, I switched on my TV to watch a movie called ‘Touched by Grace”. It was a heartfelt drama of a teenager called Cara, who moves to a new school and becomes one of the most popular girls. Cara ends up being wrongly judged for being friends with someone with a mental illness. The name of the girl living with mental disability was Grace Elizabeth Young.
Grace, is surprisingly crowned the queen of the year at a small homecoming party organised for high school students to celebrate and is asked to sing with the crowned king who was also living with a disability that appeared to be down syndrome.
As she begun singing, all the students laughed, with no care or shame. She continued singing, evoking more laughter from her peers. Grace’s singing was not appreciated and on realizing, she collapsed on the floor due to a heart condition.
A rose flower she was holding, given after being crowned the high school queen, dropped on the floor. It was heartbreaking to see a person living with mental disability being shunned and her ability to try and showcase what she can do being demeaned in the most possible way. Before more than 70 high school students.
Yes it is just a movie, but it taught me a lot. How do we treat people living with disability (PLWDs) in our families, communities and in the work place? Is it about fulfilling our job descriptions or personal appraisals? Or it is going that extra mile to do a stretch assignment and support PLWD in their lives. How many of us can say, I have a friend who is living with disability. Not just a friend, but a best friend.
I doubt many have that either motivation or desire. But if you do have such a friend living with disability it is amazing, I believe so. You learn a lot about their lives, share and be part and parcel of being the people who will always hold their hand.
Grace’s story is amazing, the director and producers created that type of screen play story with a purpose. My take, is to teach. Christian teachings that were heavily impressed in the movie. In a rather disappointing end, Grace died after the incident.
We have to respect the dignity and lives of every person on the earth, whatever situation they are living in. God made us in His image. He is love. We are not created to hurt others or be judgmental of who they are. We need to change and be part of the parcel to make and impact in the communities we live in and the vulnerable children we serve living with disability, they have to be our friend , even more best friends.
It all starts with respect, humility, appreciation and value. We are all created in God’s image and likeness.
World Vision Kenya