Monday, April 23, 2018

How about a shout out to J.K. Rowling?

The tweet is here
J.K. Rowling tweeted the above in response to a tweet that defended antisemitism thus: “Because Judaism is a religion and not a race...”

Her emphatic condemnation of antisemitism comes at a time when the incidence of attacks against Jews both physical and in social media is rising incrementally.

This is a perfect opportunity to praise Rowling for a different cause she champions: the rights of children with disabilities. Through the organization she founded and heads, Lumos, Rowling, promotes the inclusion of that victimized minority into the general community.

Lumos aims to achieve that goal by shutting down large, closed and isolated institutions. It targets precisely the sort of "facilities" that are operated by Aleh in Israel. (Note: Aleh refrains from ever uttering the word "institution". It adheres to the more neutral "facility".)

Rowling's organization helped fund a European initiative described in a 2017 report entitled "Opening up communities, closing down institutions: Harnessing the European Structural and Investment Funds" By Neil Crowther, Gerard Quinn & Alexandra Hillen-Moore November 2017

Here are some of the themes discussed in that paper:
  • Family and community-based living | Regardless of age or disability, all children and adults are able to live in the community with choices equal to those of others, with individualised, accessible support and opportunities to participate fully in community life. All children are able to grow up in a family or family-like environment.
  • Independence | When used with reference to independent living or community-based living 'independence' means that all people with disabilities have the same freedom, choice, dignity and control over their lives as other citizens at home, work and in the community....
  • Institutional care | Institutional care is the provision of care within a residential setting where residents are compelled to live together within an ‘institutional culture’. It segregates residents from the broader community and tends to be characterised by depersonalisation, rigidity of routine, block treatment, isolation and segregation from the wider community....
  • Community-based care | The term ‘community-based care’, refers to the spectrum of services that enable individuals to live in the community and, in the case of children, to grow up in a family or family-like environment. It encompasses mainstream services, such as housing, health care, education, employment, culture and leisure, which are accessible to everyone regardless of the nature of their impairment or the required level of support... In addition, the term includes family-based and family-like care for children, including substitute family care and preventative measures for early intervention and family support 
Those who read Aleh's Yom Ha'atzmaut PR release [here] congratulating itself for promoting inclusion of people with disabilities should not be fooled. No amount of verbiage about inclusion, advocacy of inclusion, praise for the inclusive projects of others, which Dov Hirst did ad nauseum in that op ed will render Aleh an inclusive enterprise. 

Aleh's prattle can never transform its institutions-the very epitome of segregation, isolation and discrimination into inclusive entities.

I would urge parents of children with disabilities who have either abandoned them already or are considering that step to watch the video at this Facebook link. It profiles an abandoned child with severe disabilities who was then adopted by loving, devoted parents - a couple who are afflicted with the very same disabilities as she is!

I also urge you, readers, to suggest to any parents of children with disabilities whom you know in that situation to contact me. Aleh professes to offer the one ideal solution for children with what it terms "profound, complex disabilities". 

My daughter Chaya is severely cognitively impaired, severely physically impaired, non verbal, unable to sit or stand, cortically blind and suffers from refractory epilepsy. Many of the children that reside in Aleh institutions are in a far better condition than that. So, I am in an ideal position to commiserate with and advise those who are overwhelmed by the challenge of raising such a child. These children need their loving parents and siblings as much as, if not more than, abled children do. Take it from me.

Playground swing update: We have learned that (at least) one Liberty Swing already exists in Israel, and was installed in Hadera in about October 2017. We hope to add Jerusalem to the list. We now await details of price. Once we have that, we plan to launch our crowd-source campaign and also submit our request to the municipality for evaluation. 

Can't wait to get Chaya into a Liberty Swing.

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