A new campaign which hopes to make Canadians more aware of being inclusive was launched by Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital last summer.
The “Dear Everybody” campaign, which takes the form of an open letter, aims to end the stigma many Canadians with disabilities go through in their daily lives.
Two teenagers, Jadine Baldwin and Maddy Hearne, describe their experiences in two episodes from a series of campaign videos.
Baldwin is a confident and intelligent 17-year-old who happens to have cerebral palsy. She describes how some people treat her like a kindergarten student instead of the smart and confident high school teenager she is. The Dear Everybody campaign gives her a platform to take a stand, “I’ve dealt with stigma my whole life because of my cerebral palsy – I’ve dealt with people doubting my intelligence,” says Baldwin.
Similarly, 17-year-old Hearne was an accomplished gymnast before a series of concussions meant she now has to wear dark glasses and headphones in the school halls to alleviate the dizziness, headaches, tiredness, nausea and confusions she has to deal with. “I looked different and the kids thought I was crazy and they wouldn’t talk to me just because of how I looked and what accommodations I had,” says Hearne.
The main focus of the five-year “Dear Everybody” campaign is to create an inclusive world and to highlight misconceptions such as:
- not everybody with a disability looks like they have a disability;
- just because someone doesn’t do something the way most people do it, doesn’t mean they can’t do it;
- talking to someone with a disability like they’re a baby is rude unless they’re a baby;
- just because someone doesn’t speak the way you do, doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to say; and
- if being around someone with a disability makes you feel uncomfortable, you aren’t around someone with a disability enough.
For more information about the Dear Everybody campaign, click here.