Friday, June 20, 2008

A Disabled Swimmer to make us proud

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times June 18th , A Disabled Swimmer's Dream, A Mother's Fight, about Kendall Bailey, a boy with autism and cerebal palsy who was almost disqualified from the American Paralympics team. The author of the article, Alan Schwarz, was on Talk of the Nation last Wednesday and talked about his experience researching and writing the article. He clearly took the time to understand this family and really "get" how important competing in Bejiing is to the boy, Bailey. He also writes beautifully about Connie Shaw, Kendall's mom, and her fierce advocacy for her boy.

The American Paralympics committee questioned whether Kendal was sufficiently physically disabled "enough" to compete in the Paralympics. Intellectual disabilities alone are not a classification for the Paralympics. Ultimately, the family appealed on a national and international level and Kendall be going to Beijing and likely setting new world records.

If you have a few minutes and don't mind if you start of get weepy (I recommend not driving!), listen to Alan Schwartz describe how important swimming is to Kendall. Here is the National Public Radio link.

Did the U.S. Paralympics committee act out of ignorance? Did they act out of malice? Discomfort about developmental disabilities? Is there an "Us" vs. "Them" vibe between the developmentally and physically disabled? I'd like to know what you, dear readers, think.

There has been a lot of talk recentlyabout how we have become a multi-racial society with blurred lines between black, brown and white. Similarly, can our society no longer have sharp lines between phsycial and intellectual disabilities? Again, what do you think?

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