Diss the dis in disability

This past week, Sesame Street introduced a new character with autism and launched a new website called “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children”.

This is a bold, exciting step. It’s time we finally dissed the “dis” in disability and see the strengths and gifts people have to offer, regardless of their limitations or challenges.

I have a bit of experience with kids with autism. I remember attending a play group of kids “on the spectrum”. The first week, you could tell the parents sitting on the bleachers were comparing mannerisms and skills of their kids. Some kids had more overt stimming behaviours, movements kids with autism do to self-stimulate. Some were better at the physical activities they had the kids do. Others clearly struggled with speech or making friends.

What was interesting was by the end of the third week, the parents didn’t see this any more. They saw a beautiful little boy Damien, with the most gorgeous smile and sweet disposition. They saw a tall, lanky and athletic girl named Georgia, who had a wonderful heart and tried to help the other kids. They saw past their disabilities to see their abilities and strengths.

As humans, it’s natural for us to like people like us. But those who are different have so much to offer and give.

This week’s #HappyAct is to diss the dis in disability. Fight the impulse to label someone the next time or your child meets someone and thinks they’re “weird” or “different”. Be open to who they truly are. If we can all do this, the world will be a more peaceful, inclusive and happier place.

Ed. Note: As a follow up to last week’s federal election, I was heartened on election night to see the faces of our new members elect of parliament. A record number of visible minorities and women were elected to our new parliament. That in itself is a great outcome.

If I were Prime Minister

PM for a dayTomorrow is election day in Canada. We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to choose our leaders and have a voice on the issues important to us. I admire most politicians for their tenacity, drive, vision and most of all for the huge personal sacrifice they make for their country. It has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world.

Having said all that, I can be as good a critic as the next person and sometimes think, what would I do if I was Prime Minister?

I asked the people in my household this morning what they would do if they were Prime Minister.

  • Clare said she would create the NWHL: the National Women’s Hockey League
  • Grace said she would rename every street in Canada Grace Street: Grace Street 1, Grace Street 2.
  • Kaya, Clare’s friend who slept over said she’d order jelly beans for every person in the country (she also asked me if I was going to vote for Stephen Harvey)
  • Dave said he would ban all electronics so people couldn’t blog

Here’s what I would do:

  • Merge the Catholic and public school boards to save the costs of duplicate administration, bussing and improve our schools and education system
  • Make brands that have reduced their packaging size put warning labels on their products that says “We’re charging you the same amount for one-third less”
  • Provide tax breaks to businesses that introduce wellness, mentorship and early retirement programs, where employees over the age of 50 can scale back on the number of hours they work, and share knowledge and provide jobs for the new, oh-so-smart generation of workers entering our workforce who can’t find jobs. This would solve the work-life balance issues so many Canadians are struggling with and create jobs for the key 18-35 demographic
  • Figure out a way to break the teacher’s unions (don’t get me started)
  • And make more than three hashtags in a post or hashtags longer than 14 characters long illegal

This week’s #HappyAct is to exercise your democratic right and vote, and leave a comment. What would you do if you were Prime Minister? #elxn42 #cdnpoli