Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wall-to-Wall Weekend

It's been a full weekend already. Friday night was the Mosaic Masquerade at church and it was great. I helped set up from 3-6 PM, and then was in charge of a group of 30 kids who moved from one room to another for 3 different dance lessons. My group started out in the Swing Dance room. Because they encouraged leaders to learn the dances, I took part in the Swing dance. This was until they encouraged people to partner up when I backed out. Chaperones dancing with students is, well, creepy. Furthermore it was patently forbidden in the instructions we were given at the start of the evening. No problem here. I had fun just watching the kids have fun.

It was interesting because in the first lesson, students were shy and hesitant to dance with the opposite gender. Then, by the third lesson, everybody was much more comfortable with each other and mingling quite well.

The second lesson was freestyle. In it we learned dance moves like the "reject", the "wobble", the "lapel pop" and a couple of others. It was taught by a fun instructor and had the whole room having a blast. It was proof positive though that white guys over 6'3" and over 45 years old shouldn't be dancing. As the saying goes, it ain't right.

Wherein lies the problem. It became glaringly apparent to me last night that dancing is all about having fun and getting rid of all of your inhibitions at the same time. If you worry about what other people are thinking, you're not dancing. Just have fun. It's the most freeing activity I can think of. Reckless abandon, and it usually shows in my case. :-)

Then, yesterday was Elmbrook's Service Day where 800+ people took on over 10 projects in Waukesha and Milwaukee. It was an amazing day. Pure spectacle to see that many people mobilized to help serve as the hands and feet of God in making our community a better place to live and work. I served as bus captain for one of four buses that went to Minooka Park in Waukesha. Our project involved several different activities including trash pickup, cleaning up an old dumping ground for everything from tires to rusted non-descript items, garlic mustard pulling, fencing extraction and mulching. It was so cool to see entire families engaged in service, excited to be helping improve the park.

Last night as a family we watched a great movie titled Music Within . It was a wonderful story about the man who developed the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. There was a bit of coarse language in it, but I feel that outweighed the good in it that the kids got out of the movie; namely that people with disabilities are people too, and they need to be seen, they need access and they are not stupid or less than anyone else.

This understanding came clearly into focus for me in 1985 when I visited my brother Rob at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, (NTID). It was here that I humbly became a minority. Everyone around me was signing and had a hearing loss of some sort. When I first got there, I felt totally isolated, shut out and excluded. Most of it was my own doing, but it was incredible to be seen, yet not seen. Or heard, but not heard, as the case was.

The outstanding thing was though that I was forced to see life from the deaf perspective. I was an outsider trying to get in, or get heard. I was a minority in every sense of the word.

My awareness about the need for a voice for the disabled was furthered later by Donna's career at Independence First. That agency is focused on developing independent skills of the disabled. It is a wonderful agency and has a world class staff running it all headed by Lee Schultz. I miss being around that group and plan to someday reconnect and serve. (Retirement?)

Today, we have 7 friends and family coming over and I've got a lot to do, so I've gotta run.

Blogging off...

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