Don’t Count Our Children Out

jo ann cropBy: Jo Ann Simons

The 2013 World Series is now history, the champagne has been cleaned from the clubhouse floor, the parade is over and the confetti has been swept from the streets of a grateful city. Yet long after the players have dispersed to their hometowns and our region’s thoughts have turned to Super Bowl and Stanley Cup dreams, conversations continue about this year’s victorious Boston Red Sox. On my long commute each day, I have been listening each morning to sports radio dissecting this historic winning season and the players.

This team had been doubted and demonized and the fans showed their apathy by ending the longest sold out attendance streak in Major League Baseball. Much was said about the dearth of superstars which have historically been the foundation of a team and its fan base.  Boston’s fan base had deteriorated after the team’s dismal 2012 season amid talks of beer and fried chicken in the clubhouse.

Someone forgot to tell the baseball players they had been counted out- by their fans, by the Boston sports writers and by baseball.  They had something to prove and they delivered with a passion and love for the game. Sometimes with a flair for the dramatic- how else can you explain those 9th inning walk off home runs?

They were relentless. They came together as a team with little regard for what others had to say about them.

jo ann bosox
As I continued to listen to sports radio, I began to think of another team that sounded very much like our 2013 Red Sox. A team that I know very well- families of children with disabilities.

We are relentless in standing up for our children to be included in all aspects of life- education, housing, employment, sports and leisure activities. We do not care about what others say about us. We know the work we need to do and we do it. Too often, very much alone.

When it comes to our children, we might be dreamers but, what parent is not allowed to dream?

Realistic? Do not count our children out. We don’t settle for realistic. We set the bar just higher than anyone else thinks it should be. And then we watch with pride when they meet high expectations. And we prove the pundits wrong. Every day.

There will not be champagne when our goals are met. There will not be a parade for us when we are victorious. We will not be considered heroes.

But each and every day, we do the heroic and while we are not looking for full page ads in the Boston Globe congratulating us for our achievements, awareness and recognition of our efforts by our community would be nice. But I will settle for more public support and funding.

The 2013 Boston Red Sox made our town better. Keep them in mind at home: Just as they did on the field, our children at home make our lives and our community better.

Every single day.

Jo Ann Simons is a Disability Advisor to the Ruderman Family Foundation and President and CEO of the Cardinal Cushing Centers

Read our last post: Ten Steps To Make Your Congregation More Inclusive, Part II
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