Before we are born, a set of morals, values, beliefs and laws are already set out for us. As stated in The Four Agreements, even our names are chosen for us. From day 1 society has implanted an outlook on how life is meant to look before we even get the chance to learn our first word. Everything that strays away from society’s “normal” is automatically separated in our mind as different and we approach these differences with fear.
All individuals are born with unique traits that we learn to accommodate to society’s structure. Some individuals require more accommodations and some less and in my opinion this is unfair because human life wasn’t created to be structured a certain way. Everyone deserves to experience life with as much love and freedom as the next without constraints.
Children who require special needs to function within the norms of society, whether it be choosing a behavior society deems appropriate or utilizing a functional movement society requires to move from point A to B, deserve all the enjoyments life has to offer the same as anyone else. Some children have to work extra hard to behave according to what has been established as appropriate regardless of the amount of medication or parenting strategies implemented on them. Some children have to work extra hard just to use a spoon to take a bite of cereal in the morning regardless of the adaptive equipment and vigorous therapy they receive. So much judgement is placed on these kids but people fail to realize the incredible amount of effort they exert just to try and “fit in” with society.
Sunshine Camp in Rush, NY is a camp where kids with special needs are able to be 100% themselves 24 hours a day while enjoying all of the summer camp fun judgement and restriction free. There is a rock climbing wall with a zip line, pool, splash pad, basketball, four square, camp fire, scavenger hunts, pond with paddle boats and fishing, music, wildlife, etc., and a slew of incredible, compassionate, fun loving staff members who do everything in their power to make sure each and every camper is having the time of their life. I am honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of the magic this summer, and it is an experience that I will cherish forever.
In just two (way to quick) weeks I learned so much from the campers that I was lucky enough to meet and hangout with. These little guys and gals experience more struggles in a day than you and I may ever experience in a lifetime, but they continue to radiate with so much light and energy. Sunshine camp gives these amazing kids the chance to be exactly who they are and I wish society was able to give a little more of that to them.
When you see a kid having a different behavior than expected, please don’t judge them and the parents because it may not fit into society’s norm… Understand that maybe that child has incredible difficulty understanding which behaviors are appropriate. When their favorite crayon is lost it may be equivalent to when someone steals your wallet or purse. The same goes with seeing a kid utilize different functional movement patterns that you may be used to seeing… Please don’t stare at them and feel sorry for them but be proud of them for mastering a skill that comes natural to you but they had to work that much harder to achieve and they did!
We are all unique, we are all living out our individual dreams but my dream is no better or worse than the next persons, it is simply mine. We have no power to decide how someone else should live their dream because in the end we are all the same, human, just with different paths. Next time you perceive something as a failure and feel a judgement coming on flip that switch in your mind and tell yourself they are doing what they need to do to live out their dream and I will continue to do the same for myself.
Love one another for our successes and support each other’s unique path to achieve them.