Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Labelled with Love?

So the Olympics is almost upon us and the excitement levels are ratcheting up every day as the clock counts down and the media coverage increases.  At our daughter's school the project for this term is, naturally, The Olympics and we've been having great fun completing and documenting mini sporting tasks and learning facts and figures about Team GB - I hadn't anticipated how much her homework would be a means for us to do things together so it is a welcome bonus!  In class they are being taught about the Olympic and Paralympic values of respect, excellence, friendship, courage, determination, inspiration and equality which is giving them a fantastic opportunity to tackle some fairly big and important subjects.

What I hadn't anticipated was a discussion that included the assertion that "Cerrie on CBeebies would be in the Paralympics because she is disabled".  I don't yet know in what context the word was introduced but it for me it is too early.

We have been CBeebies fans in our house for years and whilst the children have noticed that Cerrie has one hand, we have never called her disabled because the straightforward explanation that we are all made differently was enough.  My brother has Down's Syndrome and to date we have not discussed his condition with the children because they quite simply do not see a difference that is worth remarking on at this point in time.  The children just see their uncle and it had not occurred to me until recently how important it is for that to remain the case for as long as possible - unlike others, they view him without preconception or prejudice.

I understand that we need a common language to explain, organise, and make sense of things.  But now my daughter has a concept of difference that many people would term a 'label' and for what purpose?  This is something that we did not introduce and may not have been necessary for a little while yet.  So what to do?  We've decided to deal with the questions as they come, but for as long as we can, we'll be keeping our house label-free.

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