A few years ago, I attended my first and only professional football game. A professional colleague called and offered me two tickets to the Eagles season opener that he could not use. I told him I had to call him back. I have to admit, my family are Steelers fans. The Steelers were not playing though. So, I was unsure anyone would go with me. At first, my husband said no, but then he changed his mind saying he wanted me to have the experience of going to a live football game.
We grabbed hoagies, a blanket, and tailgated. When we walked into the stadium, we each got a beer and sat among the green-shirted crowd. Our seats were near the end zone and it happened that most of the people around us were from one company.
The game did not disappoint. It opened with a big patriotic salute, a giant American flag, marching military personnel. The Eagles played really well, plenty of touchdowns. There was a green shirted guy in our section who led the Eagles cheer on a regular basis, a guy with Down syndrome. I heard one guy behind me ask his co-worker, “Who is he?” He said, “He’s the guy from the warehouse”.
We need to be honest with the families of the people in sheltered workshops. These workshops will either become companies that no longer discriminate OR they will close. As a society, when we see someone who is different, we are not all kind and respectful. We need to step up and do our part to create the change we know can lead to a better life for everyone.
Just what benefits does the “guy in the warehouse” get?
- When his dad, his usual ride to work, is ill, he can call a co-worker for ride.
- His co-workers coach him in tasks he has not done before.
- He gets to sit at the Eagles game with his company.
- He has a chance to lead.
- He is valued for his work.
Just what benefits do his co-workers get?
- A chance to make new friends.
- A chance to teach someone a skill.
- A change to value someone else’s potential.
- A chance to spread the word.
As a consumer, I will patronize companies, and spend my money at places that I know are committed to ending discrimination.
Think for a minute. Isn’t it fundamental that we want to be seen and respected for our contributions? Who among us would only want to do that if we needed to be separate because of anything: gender, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, etc.?
Let’s go about creating the great expectations that are the commitment we made to all the people who live in these United States.