Dear Everybody: It’s time to end stigma
In August 2017, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital launched an anti-stigma campaign called, Dear Everybody. I was so excited about this campaign that I interrupted the scheduled 99 Days in 2017 and included this campaign as today’s tip. It eventually made it’s way into the series because it is an important message.
Dear Everybody is an open letter from children and youth with disabilities, and their families, that pushes readers to confront their own biases about disability and human value. The letter begins: “Every line of our letter helps people understand our lives, puts a little information into our world and takes a little stigma out of it.” – Louise Kinross
Go to the Dear Everybody website to share the letter (which I’ve copied below).
I can’t begin to say how much I love this campaign.
We live with our disabilities every day. You might think that’s the biggest problem but it isn’t. The biggest problem is the world that’s full of stigma around living with a disability. People are afraid to offend so they avoid asking questions or making conversation. But we need to get these answers out there, we need to start talking. So we’re putting it all out there. Every line of our letter helps people understand our lives, puts a little information into our world and takes a little stigma out of it. So read and share because a world without stigma is a better world for everybody.
Here we go.
- Not everyone with a disability looks like they have a disability.
- Just because someone doesn’t do something the way most people do it, doesn’t mean they can’t do it.
- Being afraid to say the wrong thing to someone is no reason to ignore them.
- Whispering is rarely as discreet as you think it is.
- Talking to someone with a disability like they’re a baby is rude unless they’re a baby.
- Just because someone doesn’t speak the way you do, doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to say.
- If being around someone with a disability makes you feel uncomfortable, you aren’t around someone with a disability enough.
- If we can’t include everyone in a game, we aren’t playing it right.
- Got a question for someone with a disability? Ask them. Not the person with them.
- Advocating for your own inclusion is tiring.
- Not everyone in a wheelchair needs to be fixed.
- Asking is better than assuming. But do you need to know?
- Prosthetic arms are very cool, but staring isn’t.
- Disability isn’t awkward but stairs and doors can be.
- People with disabilities have good days and bad days, just like you.
- Sometimes concentrating looks like fidgeting.
- There’s no such thing as normal.
- If someone’s voice is hard for you to understand, talk to them more. You will get better at it.
- Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate how awesome someone’s life is.
- There are things that people with disabilities don’t get about disability too.
- If someone communicates differently than you, still say “hi.”
- Feeling sorry for someone with a disability never makes them feel better.
- Anyone can be included. Just accommodate.
- Having a disability is different than being sick.
- Grownups need to treat people with disabilities the way kids do.
- Using a communication device takes a lot of concentration and it can be exhausting.
- Let your kid talk to someone with a disability.
- Not everyone who uses a wheelchair can’t walk.
- Overstimulation can look like bad behaviour. It’s very different.
- If you’re inspired by someone with a disability, make sure they did something inspiring.
- Nobody likes being stared at.
- Holding a door can change someone’s day.
- Some people pay better attention to conversations when they don’t make eye contact.
- Why aren’t there any superheroes that use a wheelchair?
- Just because someone needs more time to do something doesn’t mean they are less able.
- Chats about making things accessible for people with disabilities should include people with disabilities.
- Some curbs and steps might as well say: ‘People who use wheelchairs are not welcome here.’
- Before you start helping someone who uses a wheelchair, ask if you can help them.
- Having to prove that you need an accommodation can be very frustrating.
- Let kids without disabilities be curious about disability.
- It’s good to learn about someone’s disability. It’s better to learn about what you have in common with them.
- Navigating this world in a wheelchair takes a whole lot of planning.
- Everyone deserves to be accepted.
- Nobody expects you to know everything about disability. Ask questions.
Thank you for reading. If you discovered one new thing about living with a disability, then we already live in a better world. Please share this letter and help us start an even bigger conversation.
~ From the kids of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
The maiden has, and continues to, experienced stigma, exclusion and unfortunately bullying. Check out: Breaking Bad Bullying Behaviour as well as this video A Message for FASD Superheroes who may be getting bullied from Lee Harvey-Heath (an adult with FASD) and FASD Devon and Cornwall.
Let us know if you have any interesting videos or links for stigma, exclusion, bullying or inclusion.
2018 Update: A new ad campaign has been launched called, “I’ll break the barriers.” To find out more:
2019 Update: The campaign returns for the third year with powerful images that highlight the exclusion of people with disabilities from the media landscape, challenging the public to demand more inclusive representation.
See you tomorrow as we head into the home stretch of our journey!