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A long time ago, No More Sidelines asked if I'd host their annual gala along with Dave Kaechele to help raise some funds for their organization.  Taken a back a little wondering how they wanted us, we agreed and became part of an organization that gave us far more than we could ever give them.  Some of the original families that began the org became better friends over the years and those original "kids" are now young adults.  You're going to hear just how far the time lapse happens in today's story with Nicole Kary who's here to share some thoughts on ableism. 

 

Ableism is defined as "discrimination in favor of able-bodied people".  Ableism also comes in many forms.  Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require 'fixing' and defines people by their disability.  It can be omission of proper building access when mobility equipment is needed.  Another way that might not be thought of is the inability for someone who's blind to use a braille menu.  Maybe the lack of a sign language interpreter?  More often than not and oversight for sure, and of course any new construction or municipal project should connect with the ADA to make sure they meet the requirements.  Nikki shares some deeper thoughts however.

With Nikki, her abilities are limited to her movement.  Inside, she's her mind operates like any 21-22, yes, we have to strike that because I am old....Nikki is now 29 and thinks like any other 29 year old.  Being non verbal she uses her Accent Pad to fully communicate.  She helps at Kids Food Basket as well as Big Lake Humane society.  She speaks on behalf of others who have limitations and the one thing that makes her feel the worst is the assumption that she's somehow of lower mental capacity because of her chair.  She, and a lot of her friends are not looking for a pity party.  They really don't need to be "talked down to"....if someone differently abled has a care giver with them, speaking to the care giver and not the individual....you can figure that one out....and finally, with Nikki, she's really hurt when people treat the care giver like they are a "hero".  It's an oversight on most everyone's part and it's also an awkward situation, she gets it, but Nikki also understands that talking about it, well that's the only way people are going to learn, understand and be better.

Nikki is strong and willing to speak out, but she also wants you to know she's friendly and approachable.  She leaves us with a quote - "If you see someone who is differently abled say hi. If you have any questions ask. Don't just stare at the person and assume."  We could all take that advice no matter the ability of out body.