Common Ground: Commentary on Dwarfism, Disability and Chicago
Friday, August 31, 2012
Group of Athletes Marching into to Paralympic Stadium
The 2012 Paralympics opened in London a few days ago. While at work, I watched part of the Opening Ceremonies from my computer. As I watched contingents from country after country march into the stadium I was struck by how ordinary the athletes appeared. Ordinary in this sense is a positive thing. When it comes to public relations messaging for the disability community and specifically for the dwarfism community, I often say that people with disabilities are just like everybody else or I say people with dwarfism are just like everybody else. As a large group of athletes in the stadium the Paralympians really did look like other non-disabled athletes or other non-disabled people. If you focused on one specific athlete, maybe you could see a prosthetic limb or you would notice that an athlete was blind, wore sun glasses and hung onto an athlete nearby as a guide. But it was easier, and almost more powerful to watch the groups as one body. That's not say it's better to overlook or ignore the disability. In most cases, disability is a strong, influential part of who we are as athletes and as individuals. But taken as a whole, the image of the athletes in the stadium underscores the point that there are so many more commonalities between people with and without disabilities than there are differences. With this in mind, it is such a shame that people with disabilities are so often judged, treated differently and discriminated against because of their disabilities.
Scott Danberg with Team USA
Speaking of the Paralympics, congratulations to Scott Danberg. The London Games are Danberg's fifth Paralympics. An athlete with dwarfism, Danberg has competed in multiple sports, from power lifting to shot put to javelin. This year, Danberg was bestowed with the honor of leading Team USA into the stadium while carrying the American Flag. Here is an interview with Danberg on National Public Radio.