Friday, March 12, 2010

The Accessibles

Over the past few weeks, the one thing I have not shared with my student lovelies is the amount of physical pain I've been dealing with as I've been travelling through these exciting Olympic Adventures. The sciatic pain of walking and standing has made my travel to events and venues a major challenge. However at the same time, it's also made it significantly more interesting!

Over the past few weeks, I've become an Olympic "Accessible"!

I haven't needed any special piece of paper, Handicapped Parking sticker, or note from the doctor to show at the door. By virtue of not being able to walk or stand in long lines without considerable pain, I've been allowed to freely use the many services which are being provided to make it possible for people like me to attend and even enjoy the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Over the past few weeks I've travelled the back-roads of elevators and accessible shuttles, bypassed painfully long 45 minute line-ups to SkyTrains and buses, used seats reserved for the disabled and elderly, and even had a volunteer roll me in a wheelchair to the "Accessibles" seating area: center-ice, front-row seats at the Men's Curling Competition. (I could reach out and TOUCH the cute Danish and American men curling up and down right in front of me! Kevin and his Canadian crew were only one sheet over. My pride may have taken a direct hit, but the thrills of that front-row priviledge will last a lifetime!)

And in doing all of this, I've become an "Accessible".

I love it! May the term "Disabled" be forever banished from our vocabulary!!

Because, travelling around Vancouver this past month, and up to Cypress Mountain and the Whistler Olympic Sliding Center, I have watched all kinds of people in wheelchairs take REGULAR buses and subways to work and play -- COMPLETELY on their own!!! I've seen a whole new vision of a world where people who were once truly and cruelly confined by prejudice and building restrictions within institutions and private homes now freely live their lives amongst us all. Before a knee replacement, I had already begun one of them, and I had also begun to experience the trials and prejudices and limitations of the people and that world.

as these 2010 Winter Paralympics begin,
those amazing world-class athletes who have braved and stared down fear and fatigue and depression and pain to achieve such physical prowess, approach a world stage we open for them.

But will the many hearts and minds of unfamiliar Joe's ALSO be open and accessible to them?

How many people will see the striving human beings long enough for the disabilities to disappear?

Will "The Disabled" be replaced by "The Accessibles", and will it come to stand for more than ramps and wheelchair transit?

I can't wait to see what the next 10 days bring.

Today the Parallel Olympics,
MY Olympics,

More later,
from my smiling

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