Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions

“He For She” and EQUALITY

An article on TheAtlantic.com (The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women) says:

“A 2013 report from the World Health Organization called violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion,” from domestic abuse, stocking, and street harassment to sex trafficking, rape, and murder.

Last Saturday, October 11th, was The International Day of the Girl. The United Nations declared it thus back in 2011 and this year this day just so happened to follow the announcement that was years in the making.

After all she went through at such a young age, all for the basic right to get an education, Malala Yousafzai was awarded as the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. with her advocacy and bravery when speaking up for girls and their right, everywhere around the world, to receive the same educational opportunities as boys, this equality is key for a bright future for both sexes and I have found it a hopeful sign.

I recently found myself growing more and more interested in speaking on gender equality. I often feel like I have a double burden placed upon my back, being both a woman and with a disability.

I guess I used to feel like I couldn’t say anything about my thoughts and feelings on the subject, for fear of sounding like a whining, complaining victim. Oh poor me! Poor her…the poor blind woman!

I feel I am not that far off from being born in a time or a part of the world where I would be less lucky than I currently am and this thought gives me chills. Where would that leave me then? What would my life be like if I had not been alive and brought up at this time in history, in Canada? A blind girl wouldn’t historically or culturally be given all that many opportunities or rights.

I guess it’s only been a coming together of very recent events, first the speech Emma Watson gave at the UN with her “He For She” campaign. And then with Malala’s award. These two aren’t keeping quiet and neither am I for that matter.

Check out the Atlantic article,

Here.

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I found myself in a fast-food restaurant today with my two-year-old nephew and sister. As my sister got up to dispose of our tray, I remained by the table with my nephew. I held my white cane and he examined it with great interest. He needed to be reminded not to pick it up and let it fly in the air, risking bodily harm to other customers, but then he grabbed my hand and led me carefully out of the restaurant.

Any aggressive little boy behaviours such as playing with a long white stick indoors were instantly switched up for a more intuitive, thoughtful, and sensitive act like helping me out of the restaurant. Just these very gender specific behaviours are valid ones and we can teach both young boys and young girls to be whatever they want to be. That is what we should truly be fighting for, both men and women of the world.

It was the second time he has done this and as I cautiously walked with him to the door, through the entrance, and out and safely crossing the street to the car I felt again a growing awareness in him. Perhaps I am imagining this because I know how smart he is, but he seems to be developing an understanding beyond his years, a thoughtfulness he shows in wanting to help his auntie. This is what I hope, that he receives something many other children don’t, that I can give him an outlook on life through my relationship with him. I will always just have been his aunt first, but his blind aunt with the white cane too.

It’s not about him having to drag me along with him, relieving me of any responsibility for myself as the adult, but that he knows what a white cane is and what it means to hold out a hand and help someone. I see, in him, a growing empathy and kindness that more of the world could stand to learn for themselves, boys and girls from a young age and into adulthood.

I am a big fan of symmetry, more it seems, as I get older. I found this mid-week, Wednesday, Mid-month, October 15th to be highly satisfying. Speaking of equality, for disability, October 15th is International White Cane Safety Day. I want to be taken seriously as a woman with something to offer and as a person, who just so happens to carry a white cane. I hope that campaigns such as Ammas’ and awards such as the one given to Malala and the occasions such as todays’ will make our world a more tolerant place, full of opportunities for us all equally.

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And finally…

For Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities. Today I remember my memories staying as a patient with my family and, years later, giving back as a volunteer. I celebrate the house that welcomes sick children and their families with open arms, during some of the more difficult moments in life.

I continue to hope for a “Day of Change” all around.

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Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, Spotlight Sunday, Uncategorized

Grandparents: Our Greatest Teachers

Today is National Grandparent’s Day and I wanted to speak about the great teachers they become in our lives.

Firstly, if we are lucky we all have them. I learned so very much from my four grandparents and was blessed to have them all for from ten to twenty-six years of my life.

Opa was a fun presence in my young life. He was a storyteller and a partner in crime. My memories of him are vague mostly, but several memories do stand out and always will. I miss the sound of his voice and his accent. I miss his total love and approval, which I realize now not everyone else received from him in the same way. That is what grandparents are for. They should love you unconditionally and always represent the lighter side of life.

Grandma was my secret confidant. She was the only one who ever truly understood. She was sweet and loving and always there to listen. She was even more naive than even I can be with life sometimes, but that is what made her the fair and generous lady she was. I miss her uncanny way of making me feel better about the things that life throws at you. I cling to the presence and the connection we had and I will never fully let go of that.

Grandpa was the jokester and the wever of humorous tales. He had an endless string of jokes to tell and a mischievous spirit to make me laugh always.

Oma was the toughest woman I have ever met. She was a survivor of all things I could not comprehend. She bared widowhood with strength and resilience. Her love for me was unquestionable and the strongest thread I’ve ever felt. I miss her saying my name and her generosity with me always. She showered me with things, material and priceless, of which only an Oma could.

I love that my nephew has an oma of his own now. I know she and his parents will never let him forget he had an opa too.

I love to see my niece and nephews interacting with their grandparents. It makes me smile whenever I witness the bond they share.

So Happy Grandparent’s Day to all of you grandparents out there and I just want my parents to know what important roles they now play. I know they probably already realize, but I am here to repeat it anyway.

You are special people to your grandchildren, speaking from experience. You should never underestimate the influence you have on them and the adoration either. You are fun and light in a world full of day-to-day rules and responsibilities. You are a break in life and a place to just be kids. You imprint lessons and morals into their lives that nobody else can. Let them be free with you, free to just be kids and they will forever hold you in their hearts with a love like no other.

Lastly, I wanted to take a moment and share something about the importance of teachers Whether they are the life teachers that are grandparents or the ones in the classroom.

I found myself sitting on a slide, in a playground last week and thinking about school. As my little niece was to start her first day of school I imagined her playing where I sat, only days from then.

I saw my young self in the midst of a playground full of children, so long ago now it feels. It wasn’t always easy and it was downright tough at times, but I survived and learned so much from those years. I grew into the woman I am now and I am lucky to have gained those experiences. I hoped for only the best with my niece.

I think we were all scared for her, as myself and her grandparents pictured her there. The next time she appeared on this playground she would not have us there to protect her, and so we were afraid to picture our little girl set free in such a big big world. That image affected each of us in different ways. We saw her as that little baby still, but in front of our very eyes she had grown. Her independence can not be denied and so I knew in my heart she would knock em dead.

The other day I came across a video and I want to share it here now. I strongly urge you to take five minutes of your time and check out this speech by a truly inspiring teacher. She is well-spoken, humorous, and just the sort of teacher I hope my niece will have. Listening to this educator speak made me feel better about my niece’s new adventure and her step forward in life, which all who love her felt had come much too soon, but of which we all know she will learn so much.

Every Kid Needs a Champion

The teacher in this clip talks about the student-teacher relationship as a human thing, a connection, the building of relationships. It is hugely comforting and heart-warming to know there are teachers out there that care this much.

School is a series of learning and growth experiences and it effects every child in its own unique ways. There are lessons to learn academically and socially that not every child grasps the same. I want my niece to thrive and make friends, to learn what she is good at and what she can excel in. I hope she makes lasting connections throughout the years and that her teachers inspire in her a love of learning. I want teachers and students alike to see what an amazing girl she truly is.

So this post is dedicated to grandparents and teachers. Always remember and be mindful of the power you have in your hands.

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