Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Moderate Means

“The looking forward to better and better things is one of the many privileges people of moderate means enjoy over those who can buy whatever they want, whenever they like.” 
- Marion Harland, 1889 

It is the season of the Olympics, and those of you who have read this blog for a while or who know me personally probably know that I always enjoy watching the games. Some of the events I love, some events amuse me, but the Olympics never fail to captivate me.

Abbey Weitzeil
As a side note, I’d like to offer a huge Imagine! shout out to US Olympic Swimmer Abbey Weitzeil. Abbey was part of the gold medal winning women’s 4X100 medley relay and the silver medal winning women’s 4X100m freestyle relay teams. She’s also the sister of Imagine! Case Manager Alexa Weitzeil. Clearly talent, hard work, and dedication runs in the Weitzeil family! 

Anyway, I was watching an event with my daughter a couple of nights ago and we started to discuss what an achievement it was for the athletes who were participating just to be at the games. In almost every event, the best of the best were competing against each other to see who would come out on top.

The discussion brought my mind to a quote from Marion Harland (above). I realized for those athletes, the space they had available for looking forward to bigger and better things, at least in terms of their sport, was pretty small.

For example, Usain Bolt, regarded by some as the fastest human ever timed, could train eight hours a day, seven days a week for the next year and maybe trim a fraction of a second off of his 100m sprint time.

I, on the other hand, could do the same amount of training and cut several seconds (if not minutes) off of my 100m sprint time. I still wouldn’t be anywhere near Usain Bolt territory, but my “moderate means” in terms of sprinting ability would give me a much wider range in which I could improve and move toward better and better things.

And naturally, I then tried to look at that difference through the lens of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). I came to the conclusion that I don’t think we always appreciate the perspective that individuals living with I/DD have in terms of what it means to strive for the “better and better.” I also think we struggle with incorporating that perspective into our services.

Just like Usain Bolt is unlikely to ever really relate to my demonstrated lack of speed on the running track, so too many of us in the field are unlikely to ever truly relate to the needs, goals, and desires of those we serve. Too often our services reflect that lack of awareness.

The solution is to be sure that all of our services are designed and implemented with real and meaningful input from the individuals in services and their families. Only then can we move forward to better and better things and create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Then again, what do I know?

1 comment:

  1. As usual Mark, you have taken a topical event and given us a thought-provoking perspective on how we can improve our services and the quality of life for those who accept our services. Thanks