The Sammy Shuffle: part 17

Being Me

Part 2: A Similar Level of Difference

I was recently invited to participate in the All Bodies Dance Project in Vancouver. All Bodies is a mixed-abilities dance group, anyone can participate– if you can move, you can dance. And I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it.

Everyone is so warm, and welcoming, happy to be there and happy to be themselves. And you are completely free to just do what you can/move/dance in a way that works for you. The emphasis is on moving, working together, in contrast to some other activities I’ve been involved in where the goal is to meet specific criteria, or is designed/adapted as therapy/alternative therapy for people with disabilities.

It is such an amazing experience to be in a room full of people “like you” where the focus is on having fun with each other and where difference is embraced by the group as a whole, rather than individuals being flagged for improvement or accommodation to fit within an often able-bodied definition of “normal”.

And people are happy, mature and engaged. I did not grow up with others who had disabilities, I suppose just because there weren’t that many of us in my town 🙂  And then I came to the city, and I started to see this whole new community of people with disabilities. I thought it was wonderful; I could make some friends, share experiences. And yet, many of the people I met seemed so sad, so restricted and resentful. They were in pain, they were unemployed, they had troubles with housing, diets and allergies, finding support staff, accessing services, transportation, completing everyday activities. Life was a real struggle for them. It is for a lot of people.

It made me feel uncomfortable, all this focusing on the things they could not do, all the hurt and negativity. I wanted to meet someone who I could relate to disability-wise but was also just full of life and happy to be living it. Someone I could bitch to about stairs and slimy sidewalks full of errant texters, or talk to about work or school or music or food or how absolutely amazing it is to crawl into bed after snowshoeing all day, or who could appreciate how much effort it really takes to get a mug of tea from A to B 🙂  I was starved for some good fun and conversation.

Until this group.

It’s fun. We share experiences, discover shared interests and new ways to approach a piece or exercise, to express ourselves and support each other. I enjoy not being either the ‘odd-man out’ or the ‘inspiration’ but simply myself among friends with common ground. To me, that means the world.

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