11 May 2010

Can we? ... Of course we can!

Or to borrow a well worn slogan: “YES WE CAN!”

We can do anything we set out to do.

We can develop our abilities to their very limit if we put our minds and hearts to it.

We can change our view of the world to become more inclusive.

We can take little steps every day, and when we look back we will see that we have travelled thousands of miles.

The previous post on this blog was my 100th. A little milestone. One hundred posts on a journey of discovery. Because when this little old granny – sorry but I need to rephrase this to “this little young granny”. Ah, feels much better! – started this blog, she had already realised that all she thought she knew of life was actually very little, and very much one-sided. But her little blog pushed open a door barely ajar before this, and introduced her into a very different world. Not only the world of Down Syndrome, but other worlds, other challenges, other joys.

For example, one day this little young granny received an email from a fellow blogger who shall not remain nameless (Hello Hammie) asking her if she would like to join a working group for an organisation called Kanchi. After a few diary mishaps, she finally got herself free enough to agree and meet with them – going by a very simple principle: if she can do anything at all that may help Cathal directly or indirectly, short term or long term, it is worth doing. On this occasion, and on any othere one after this, she was welcomed with open arms – literally, so many genuine hugs from people she had never met before, she just loved it!

But she kept asking (and still does sometimes): “Are you sure you want me here? Are you sure I qualify?”

Because this working group is made up of people with all sorts of disabilities, or people closely associated with people with all sorts of disabilities. And let’s face it, even though she does not like this phrase, it’s true that her only qualification to this group is the fact that she is “only” the grandmother of a child with Down Syndrome...

Ever since joining this group, her eyes have opened up to aspects of life she had barely heard about before. She has been more enriched since last year than she would have been with several university degrees. For one thing, never before had she sat down for breakfast with three lovely gentlemen who all happened to be blind, and she was in absolute awe at how they navigated through their Full Irish – a big fry up of bacon, eggs, sausages, black pudding, white pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans - in other words: The Works! ;-)

And all this education for the price of only a few hours every so often at weekends, to discuss and tease out the various projects the organisation is involved in.

You can read more about Kanchi here, but let me just tell you that this organisation was founded 10 years ago by visually impaired social entrepreneur Caroline Casey. It works to change the social landscape for people with disabilities by, among other things, targeting the big bad world of business to change their attitudes toward disabilities, and showing them that integration is key to a successful business. Among other projects, Kanchi launched the O2 Ability Awards five years ago, a competition for companies and other organisations to bring themselves up to certain Ability Integration standards, and then have a chance to win an award for their efforts. This concept is catching on, as Kanchi announced recently that the Ability Awards are moving into Spain this year, sponsored by O2’s mothership, Telefonica.

RTE (Irish television) is also part of the initiative, and you can see here the first of two programmes transmitted last Thursday. The Awards Ceremony is on tomorrow evening 12th May and will be shown on RTE1 the following night (Thursday 13th May). It will be presented by our own-grown TV personality Ryan Tubridy and Kanchi founder Caroline Casey, and will have such special guests as none other than former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

But watch out carefully in the background, because this little young granny has also been asked to attend, just to cheer on the winners… Her little black dress is all ready, and she just can’t wait...

“The greatest disability is attitude. To change the way society behaves we have to change the way it thinks.”
(borrowed from the Kanchi website)


Lisamaree said...

See you tonight!

Jeffrey Goble said...

I'm a firm believer in the law of Sowing and Reaping. I'm so glad to read of your returns.

jazzygal said...

I'm sorry I didn't read this sooner Nan P. Hope you had an amazing night.

Well done..On your 100+ blog posts and on embracing all the challenges thrown your way. xx Jazzy