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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

From a Predicted Life in an Institution to Being Respected

I read about arcBARKS All Natural Dog Treats in an article in this month's Our State magazine titled arcBARKS: Bakers for Barkers.

The article is well worth the read.

The bakers making these all natural dog treats are all adults with disabilities. The article is as much about them as it is about the way the writer - Jeri Rowe - told their story.

Too often I read articles about people with disabilities that are meant to be feel-good stories, but come across, to me anyway, as somewhat patronizing and with too much sugary sweetness.

Jeri writes about these individuals just as they are - individuals. He does not patronize, marginalize, or trivialize. He writes about the employees, and the bakery, and their lives in a respectful manner. He treats them as equal human beings - which of course they are - and not as people who are less than because they have a disability.

The bakery was started 3 years ago..."It’s really a program geared to help adults saddled with labels that turn their parents into fierce advocates for their children." Saddled with labels. That's so apt, isn't it, when you have a child with a disability? They do get saddled with this label and that label and the labels follow them throughout their whole life. The label ends up becoming who they are, the label is placed before the person and people (society) react to the label before they react to the person. Saddled. So true.

What really touched me in this article is the story about how this bakery all came to be. Pat, the mother to David, one of the employees, helped start this program. David is 60 and has Down syndrome. His mom still has the typed letter she received from a health magazine about the future for David. In a couple of paragraphs this letter predicted that David would spend his life in an institution with no chance for anything. Thankfully Pat didn't accept that dire prediction for her son's future. 

She knew the program at arcBarks was working when David came home and said, "Mom, they respect me there."

That's the part where I had to wipe the tears from my eyes. They respect me there. Can you imagine? Sixty years ago when David was born the medical profession thought he had no chance for anything. Yet he knows what it feels like to be respected.

I try not to think too much about what Kayla's future will look like, I used to say I just want her to be happy. But it goes beyond that. I do want her to be happy, but I want her to be accepted and respected.

PS...if you're in the need for some Peanut Butter Barkers from arcBarks they are available in almost 150 stores across North and South Carolina including 3 supermarket chains: Lowes Foods, Whole Foods, and The Fresh Market. Or you can order them online.

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1 comment:

Elise (Kids Included Together) said...

Yes! What a wonderful perspective you bring! I often cringe at the condescension I sometimes read in articles about people with disabilities. It is so important that we see our differently-abled friends as complete people who have just as much to contribute as any of us. Thank you for writing this!