Marcus and I spoke together at a conference yesterday. The focus of the association and its mission is
to promote, find or create, then continue supported and meaningful employment for people with disabilities. Their theme: “Mission Possible.”
We shared a few advocate stories from around the world. Today we are sharing them with you, too. The first one is from New Zealand, where a film company has made eight short films focusing on people in their community. (See “Celeste is Brilliant” here and watch all of them here.)
In this short film, meet Simon.
Then we talked about the messages of this short film.
I was delighted, and not surprised, that the folks in the room recognized these key points:
Remember the point on screen, “Doesn’t mean he can’t understand though, does it?”
Right. Right! He does understand. This short film does a fine job of demonstrating Simon understands how to do his job, how to be helpful in his group, be involved in his community, and also enjoy an outing to the bar.
“His life and work is meaningful.”
The point is plainly made, Simon is an integral part of his community. He has a life of value and that is honored by this film.
“His ‘place’ is not ours to judge”
The world may look different to him, Maybe Simon’s friend is right, maybe his soul’s journey has learned beyond. Who’s to say?
“We all want the same things.”
What do we have in common with Simon? The want for privacy, the want to feel a part of a team, the want for a cold beer after work. You and me both, Simon!
“His #Voice is #True”
Simon communicates in his way. We, as advocates for and with people with disabilities, we have to listen to all of the ways our community “speaks.” There’s the tapping of hands, a motion of listening and cooperation. He shows his impatience with his mother, “Get out of my room” she says for him. She knows what he’s “saying.” With those we love and work with, we should always be listening to all of the ways people communicate, be it behavior, sign language, assisted technology, or whatever, we have to pay attention to all of the details.
What Marcus saw in the short film
When Marcus and I watched the film about Simon, we chatted (as we do), and broke down these details. Marcus said the film takes place on a farm and Simon’s adventure is to work and have friends. Marcus said the conflict is, “His mom worries” and that the #Truth is, “Life.”
Marcus said he’s liked to go meet Simon. At the bar.
The next short clip we shared was closer to home. From a brewery and bar in Wisconsin called the Great Dane.
Since this conference focus is on employment, I felt the messages in this piece were particularly apt. Check it out:
What we saw as a group were these:
“It’s All About Being Present”
CJ’s presence in a community job is important, first and foremost. Whatever follows in skills, time, or support – let’s not deny the simple important fact that CJ is present and part of the community.
The message I heard loud and clear the first time I listened to this video – “Community Leader.” Some business shy away from firsts, but others embrace their part in the community as part of their mission and even part of their brand. Those businesses who emphasize diversity and inclusion may react favorably to this message.
“Elevates the Staff”
The management aisle in the book store is full of tricks and ideas to get more from their people. More productivity, better service, more teamwork, this phrase alerts employers to a potential elixir that facilitates all of these.
Two fears here. The public facing job of CJ in a bar helps to overcome business owners and general community fears of someone different, someone with a disability, in the work-world.
Also, family fears of such a public facing job are eased when they see others in the community.
“What is your ideal employee?”
This, I feel, is the most important message, “What is your ideal employee?”
What is your ideal employee? Well, here’s someone right here with all of the attributes of an ideal employee.
Marcus watched the short and he explained the set is the bar. Adventure: CJ’s Job. The conflict, “His Mom worried.” Truth: Get the Job Done.
Also, that CJ is silly.
Marcus said he’s liked to meet CJ, too. He would be his friend.
We emphasized the importance to Listen, Respond, and Amplify the Voices of the self-advocates in our community.
We shared a few other videos, including a few from across the pond. SCOPE has done a few great series including this intro to help employers and other employees – the advice is to H.I.D.E.
I had a few epiphanies myself as Marcus and I created this and the second session we shared. I’ve got to chew on it a bit more before I share here. So…Stay Tuned Friends!
Mostly I hope to leave folks with the reminder that sharing advocate stories and our own stories, is how we will chink away at outdated attitudes and change the world, sometimes one friend at a time.
Any messages from these shorts that we missed? What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.