Imagine a moment where you couldn’t read your favorite novel because it was written in a different language or the font was illegible.
Imagine a moment where you couldn’t order your favourite meal at a restaurant because the lighting was too dim to see the menu.
Imagine a moment where your hands were too stiff and sore to write your name on an important piece of paper.
Imagine attending a summer camp and not being able to participate in any of the events.
Imagination is an important and integral tool but we need to start imagining possibilities and positivity.
This summer I was given the opportunity to work as the Summer Transition Program Assistant with Student Accessibility Services. The program is designed to help transition students with disabilities into University life. Not only is the opportunity a new and challenging one for me but it is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had to date. Everyday I looked forward to going to work, learning new things, and developing new experiences – which sadly seems very seldom now-a-days.
This opportunity provided me with a small glimpse into the life a disabled person may have; and all of those aforementioned things you just imagined? Those things, to some, are a reality. One of the most challenging tasks I had to overcome during the summer as STP assistant was turning those negative realities into positive ones. Though this may seem daunting, words cannot express how rewarding the outcomes turn out to be.
Why is it challenging? Surprisingly, it’s not because we don’t have proper accommodations or the willingness to provide proper accommodations – but it is because some of us have never imagined themselves in another’s shoes. The challenge then, is a lack of awareness not a lack of accommodations. This opportunity I was given helped me refine my ability to imagine and along with that came a plethora of other valuable life skills. I don’t think I will ever be able to fully understand the hurdles persons living with disabilities have to overcome, but I do have the capacity to imagine some of them and try to develop strategies to help.
So, my challenge to you is to imagine. Accommodating and helping create positivity in someone’s life isn’t hard once you’ve fostered awareness.
Finally, to Nipissing University – kudos on your ability to imagine and to promote positivity and possibilities for everyone. I’m very humbled to be a part of an institution that really integrates their values into daily practices and very thankful for the eye-opening opportunity this past summer.
“If we are to achieve a richer culture, we must weave one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” Margaret Meade