Previously, I introduced our two new kittens, Midori and Takuma. They are about four months old now and have changed considerably since we adopted them. If you’ve had kittens before, you know they are a constant source of entertainment.
They love to play. Midori loves to play with those balls with jingles inside. She likes to get one in her mouth and drop it at your feet. That’s your clue she’s ready for a soccer game. She expects you to kick first. She chases the ball, swats it back to you and tries to anticipate where you will kick it next.
Takuma likes playing king of the hill. He’ll climb up on something (the back of the chair is best) and then wait until she’s within pouncing distance. After watching the judo competition during the Olympics, I’m certain judo was invented from watching kittens wrestle.
They’re also figuring out they’re capabilities. Midori is able to jump up on furniture fairly effortlessly. Takuma, on the other hand, relies on his climbing ability. The other night Takuma was trying to join the rest of us on the bed and Sam said, white cat can’t jump! I told him he was going to scar our kitty for life with his horrible judgement! Since I’m pop culturally impaired, I had no idea he was referencing a movie, White Men Can’t Jump.
The 2012 Para Olympics are taking place in London. Most of us may not even be aware that their are official sport competitions for those with disabilities. Maybe we’ve heard about or even volunteered at local Special Olympic events, but the Para Olympics is a total world class event. Athletes commit and train every bit as much for the Para Olympics as they would for the Olympics. Every Para Olympian has an incredible story.
The United States dominated in the Olympics. Interestingly, the U.S. is only a distant sixth in the medal count for the Para Olympics. China is dominating in the medal count, but Great Britain’s solid second place underscores her vision and commitment not only for the Para Olympics, but for opportunities for people with disabilities.
Technological advancements offer improved accessibility and mobility for those with access to these advancements, but we as a nation have a long ways to go. Without tackling the whole disability issue, at the very least all of us will age and find ourselves unable to do what we once were able to do. At 55, I already have three replaced joints! I can do a whole lot more now with prosthetic joints than I could before they were replaced, but I’m still restricted.
Takuma will eventually figure out how to jump. Those innate tendencies will develop. However, we know that there are people around us who are wounded from war or who are born with or develop challenges and impairments. We also know that not everyone has access to treatments and services and opportunities. These are big issues that need to be tackled, not swept into the gutter with some voucher system. But, in the meantime, when you do see someone who can’t jump or reach or open the door, please be thoughtful. That’s where it starts.