5 very simple ways you can help the disabled

Posted on Mar 8, 2012 | 7 comments

While literally hundreds of thousands of people are signing the r-word: spread the word to end the word pledge, I thought readers of Mama Lewis might be interested in a few things they could do that would really help disabled people.

Despite the campaign’s good intentions, I found it objectionable. But then, I find anything objectionable that is purported to help disabled people and doesn’t.

By all means, readers, don’t use the word “retard” – but then, I’m betting you don’t use derogatory terms about disabled people anyway simply because you read this blog. Likewise, I doubt any of the thousands who signed the petition do.

In the meantime, while we all wait for the removal of the word “retard” to improve the lives of disabled people everywhere, here are a few real things you can do to help them now:

1. Want to sign a petition? It’s just as easy as signing a pledge except it may actually make a difference to the lives of disabled people. Sign this one to stop the British government removing legal aid funding from the needy.

2. Want to donate to a good cause? May’s old school Small Steps is a very small charity that relies entirely on donations. They provide guidance families like ours, along with physio, sensory activities, songs and fun. Even a small donation would go a long way

May at Small Steps with her friends - Class of 2010!

to help them, help more cuties like May.

3. Want to change people’s perceptions? Why not start with your own children? Take them to activities, nursery or schools that include disabled children in their normal sessions. The children in May’s nursery love her and don’t think she is strange in the least because she does every activity right alongside them.

4. Want to be attend an event? Nordoff-Robbins has music therapy centers all over the country. May’s once a week sessions have been key to her communication and reaching – not to mention she LOVES it. Attend one of their glamorous fundraising events or concerts where you can meet sporting and music legends.

5. Want to hire someone? Consider a disabled person for the role. I don’t know how you could help a person more than giving them employment, purpose and pride in a job well done. Finally, it’s a long shot – but today the British government announced closures of many of the Remploy factories around Britain that specifically employ disabled people. Almost 2,000 people will lose their livelihoods. If you are filthy rich – now is the time to snatch one of those factories up and make a difference to an entire community of people who will be left most certainly without work. That would prove that the Torie’s Big Society exists and I’m willing to eat my words gratefully if it happens.


  1. Wonderfully said, Stacie.

  2. Oo Oo, can I add to your list? I think this is great!

    Take an interest in politics, specifically regarding “Respect for Life” items — http://nchla.org/index.asp

    I specifically suggest this because of this recent news item, “Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say: Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9113394/Killing-babies-no-different-from-abortion-experts-say.html)

    Every time I think of this, I do think of May, and other children like her. You’re fighting for her right to an existence even now, while others — doctors and the other people you’ve had dealings with — tell you there’s nothing to be done for her and treat her a burden. How long until a doctor tells a new mother she’d be better off just killing her infant? Not that far, I fear.

    “They also argued that parents should be able to have the baby killed if it turned out to be disabled without their knowing before birth, for example citing that “only the 64 per cent of Down’s syndrome cases” in Europe are diagnosed by prenatal testing.

    Once such children were born there was “no choice for the parents but to keep the child”, they wrote.
    “To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.””

    You’re right — the word “retard” is the least of our problems!!

  3. I think it can start earlier than that. I read a Sesame Street book to the kids think it;s called “Just like me”. Elmo goes to school and their is a new student and she is in a wheelchair. We talk about how Elmo and his new friend were differnt like Elmo is a red monster and the girl is human that one was so funny. Caylee was curious about a girl in a wheel chair after reading the book and while at a resturant she really wanted to say hi to the young girl. I asked the mom if it was ok and she said yes. And Caylee went over to her and said Hi i’m Caylee and I’m four and the girl smiled her Mom said she was eight. I think I told Stacie about that, I hope the Mom was okay with it and Stacie said she bets she loved it. I think it’s true that we need to get involved more with our communities and support all of the children in it, especially the special needs kids like my neice May! I am looking into a fundraiser for my son’s school and i am going to ask the money raised go toward that area of the school. Great idea Stacie, I am really proud of you!

  4. I’m curious: is it then not the case that campaigns like R-Word (which is admittedly problematic in its advocacy of something like censorship) promote, if nothing else, more sensitive behavior toward people with disabilities? It seems possible to me (though I wouldn’t really know) that the campaign could help bring about a mass attitude adjustment that might, in turn, make life better for disabled people. Of course, if people are using the first step of that attitude adjustment as an excuse to feel great about themselves and not doing anything else to help disabled people, I agree that that’s a big problem.

    Also, most of your suggestions involve money or parenting techniques. What can broke American college students like me do to help change things, besides campaigning for politicians with sensible health care policies? I get that this kind of activism seems flaky and insubstantial, but people in my demographic can often be really passionate about these issues and yet unsure what kind of action is within our reach. That could be why so many of us end up putting our feet in our mouths.

    • Sorry for my delayed response! In regards to your “what can I do” question: a broke American college student has exactly what most of my readers – parents of disabled children – don’t have and that is time. There are plenty of organizations who would snap up an eager volunteer. And, just because you are young doesn’t necessarily mean you are flaky. If you are in college – you are intelligent, driven and resourceful enough to use your time as you choose. Perhaps, for the good of children like May!

  5. My daughter (8) has a great American Girl Doll accessory set with wheelchair and leg and arm casts(poss a few other bits). Great for normalising disabilities somewhat. I’d recommend it for girls, my daughter loves hers. We have a severly disabled niece, not in the same country. The wheelchair is great with a lot of movement, foot rests etc. Not sure if there are similar ones out there.

    • Thanks for this suggestion, Sue! I didn’t know American Girl did that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *