This past weekend, I planted flowers and I actually had help. My daughter provided me with two kinds of assistance: she helped get the plants in the soil, and she kept me company. It reminded me of when I helped my grandmother. She had arthritis in her knees, so she handed me the flowers, and I would dig wherever she pointed. In my mind’s eye, I can still see and smell those flowers. This world is full of opportunities like this; many great moments in the day start with small kindnesses.
We have a big challenge: center-based services for adults with intellectual disabilities have come under scrutiny. If we look close, they really don’t fit the WHY. When we created these programs, our goal was to get people out of institutions permanently and we did just that. However, this model didn’t fully meet the WHY, which was the belief that all people are equal and that all people belong together in their communities. We need to be honest about the fact that there are still segregated settings. We would not wish this type of segregation on other groups: women, people of color, people of other religions, etc., so why would we think it is OK to have segregation for people with disabilities?
We have a history at KenCrest of using our WHY successfully for guidance. When our original purpose to support people suffering from Tuberculosis was fulfilled, we found another purpose. We looked around the community and saw other needs. The answers we need about how to transform again are in the community; they include small kindnesses that translate into big opportunities.
Look around, ask questions, believe you can, and find a path forward. The opportunities are waiting for us. Let’s start with WHY. All people belong in a community, so let’s set out to discover how we can help get them there.