Dr. Adolf Ratzka, blog

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Dr. Adolf Ratzka,  Founder and Director of Independent Living Institute in Sweden contracted polio in his teens and remained immobilized in his wheelchair while  facing many barriers  and accomplishing  a great deal.His words   resonate with me.

and I quote

As long as we regard our disabilities as tragedies, we will be pitied.

As long as we feel ashamed of who we are, our lives will be regarded as useless.

As long as we remain silent, we will be told by others what to do.”

In 2006, Kathy Laszlo and I  cofounded a parent driven  organization called DANI, (developing and  nurturing independence.)

DANI encourages adults to  recognize and empower  their own voice and not  remain silent.   We  help  students transition after high school into adulthood;   from a state of  learned helplessness to  self- advocacy;

The adults with  disabilities  in our community aspire to the  same good life as their siblings or peers- however,  we modify their route.  Our adults wish to live in their comfortable  neighbourhood enveloped by warmth and familiarity. Our adults  have an innate desire to work and spend valuable  and  meaningful  days developing and  contributing to their own lives.

A few years ago, I contacted the nurses of the  neonatal intensive care unit  at the   Hospital for Sick Children.  I wanted to bring our adults back  to the fragile start of  their journey- where many had   various convoluted  tubes, shaved heads,   weighed very little  and had poor prospects.  I wanted to show the nurses  who their delicate  infants had become-  thriving  motivated  adults  who are  just starting to  plan their lives.

DANI  develops  and nurtures  independence.

Dr. Adolf Ratzka  suggests  that independence does not mean that we wish tolive and work in a segregated  state of isolation without  others.  I would advocate that independence  and inclusion are symbiotic. One cannot exist  without the other and I feel that this concept is an unwritten ethical, moral  and principled agreement  of our entire  kehillah-  our community.