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Special Needs Inclusion

I recently read a story in the US Catholic magazine by Jessie Bazan, titled “Mend the Cracks”.
This story touched me as it spoke about brokenness and how there is beauty in brokenness.  So much brokenness and beauty as we move into our new year 2021 and each of us try to start new beginnings after 2020 the year of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues on.  Each of us long for some type of normalcy as we continue to stay well, safe and healthy.

As I think about this, my mind goes to all those I advocate for at both Achievement Services as Board President and as Special Needs Advocate at St Benedict Church.  I think of Pope Francis’ message on December 3,2020 “People with disabilities must have access to the sacraments and, as missionary disciples, the ability to be full and active participants in the life of their Catholic parish.”

Full inclusion. Not only in our parishes, but in everything we do. We are called to be curious, creative and be present with all walks of disability.  Maybe it’s just as simple as helping someone who is unable to hear well to sit in a better place or give them earphones or maybe it is including someone who is developmentally disabled feel included in our lives and work or it’s maybe it is taking the time to sit with that one person who has thoughts of ending their own life.   These are special needs.  We need to help those who have special needs mend the cracks.  We can learn so much from anyone who has special needs.  These have not been easy times for anyone with special needs.  Those with depression have difficulty in a pandemic world of isolation and many are away from family and friends that they cannot see, touch or feel.

My own journey with special needs, began 40 plus years ago when Ron and I were dating. Ron had  a beautiful sister who had Down Syndrome.  Linda was a beautiful sister. She meant so much to her parents and all of brothers and sisters.  I, myself, learned so much from Linda.  She taught me perseverance, patience and to appreciate the simple things in life. We are able to celebrate all that Linda was to us because of inclusion.  Had Ron’s parents not included Linda in their family life, no one would have enjoyed her beauty and specialness.  Inclusion is not only important for those with special needs but also for us.

As we move thru this pandemic and all that it brings with it, let us remember those who have special needs.  Remember to include those with special needs whenever possible.

And together, we can mend the cracks.