I will be kicking off the new school year here in New York with an inservice training to the teachers and staff of Enable’s preschool program. I was requested to do my presentation on Embrace, Integrate, Radiate, Live. Here’s the description of the training from my website:
Kathy intertwines the core philosophy of her practice into a powerful presentation for individuals, families, and service providers. The concept of embracing one’s disability as a key component in the process of acceptance is explored, along with steps for integrating disability into self-concept. People are then encouraged to look at how they can radiate one’s gifts, talents, and abilities to the world. The presentation concludes with a discussion of how these important actions lead to living life as fully as you can.
When I created this training, I honestly did not have three and four-year olds in mind. The thing I love about giving presentations and training to various audiences is that I am challenged to tailor each one I do to the needs of the audience. So I called the preschool director to get a feel for some of the issues the kids are facing.
The major issues he said are the struggle with being different and keeping
up with their peers. A-ha! I was instantly taken back to being a kid -
trying to keep up with kids on the playground, with school assignments
because everyone just wrote so much darn faster than me, and getting out my
questions and stories as others patiently listened to me and tried to
Fast forward to high school years, but before any of us could drive, and I
was forever trying to walk as fast as I could to keep up with my group of
friends as we walked from the movie theater to the pizza joint. I was
always trying to keep up with others.
Looking back, I think the trap I fell into as a kid was equating “keeping
up” with “being good enough.” There’s a fine line there and when we’re
constantly measuring ourselves against others, we cross the line. We then
mistakenly believe that going at a slower pace and doing things differently
just doesn’t measure up. But who’s rules are those and why are we so quick
to accept them as truth?
Well for kids, it’s because they are so impressionable, especially at age
three and four. That’s why they need adults in their lives who will give
them messages such as valuing the uniqueness of their pace, helping them to
focus on what their gifts are, and helping them find acceptance in whatever
their pace is.
Disability or not, don’t we all essentially move at our own pace? Think
about a major marathon, like in NYC or Boston, those thousands of runners
don’t all finish first.
Grace is bestowed on us when we can begin to accept our pace, let go of the
measuring stick, and know that whatever our speed may be, it’s good enough.
I am looking forward to helping the teachers and staff foster this belief in
the little hearts of children who have so much to offer.