Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dare to be Different

Meet the new host of a children's television program in England. Cerrie Burnell was born with a limb deficiency and is missing a portion of one of her arms. This girl is freakin' adorable. She was hired, not to fill a minority quota by hiring a woman with a disability, but because she is "bright and engaging." Which is more than obvious.

Here's the kicker. Some parents are outraged. They're terrified that this girl will scare their children...give them nightmares. Right. How dare she go around being different. And in front of children? NO!

What do these parents expect to do if their kid runs into a person with disabilities in the grocery store or at school? In order to protect these kids, should I lock Reid in a bell tower for the rest of his life so his limb deficiency doesn't frighten anyone?

If this same issue was about ethnic background rather than a disability, these parents would be called racists. This is no different than discrimination against race, religion or sexual preference. It makes me sad that some parents are unwilling to use this to teach their kids about acceptance and instead they learn the very opposite. Kids are born with an open mind. If they fear this kind of difference, I would say it has a lot to do with their parents.

I realize people of all ages are naturally curious and occasionally apprehensive about disabilities. But it has been my experience that kids accept this kind of thing very easily. Of course they have questions, as do parents. Though parents more often avoid the subject and kids like to ask. And asking leads to accepting. I'm always more than happy to talk about Reid's leg when asked. I much prefer that a kid asks than is shushed by his parents. If they're old enough to ask, they tend to be old enough to understand. And once they have an answer, they move on. So far, I have not met a kid afraid of Reid because of his leg.

It seems as though the world has come quite a ways in it's acceptance of people with disabilities. They used to be locked away. And now we see people like Cerrie hosting children's shows. Awesome. But at the same time we live in a medically developed world where people can choose to abort children at the first sign of a disability long before they have a chance at life. How does that factor into acceptance?

I say way to go BBC for overlooking a disability and hiring this charming girl. Maya and Miguel on PBS has a character, Andy, with with the same. And even Clifford has a three-legged dog. We're getting there. Honestly. If kids can learn to embrace it while they're young and impressionable, maybe they'll grow up just a little better for it.

Here's a clip from the Today show last week which sparked my outrage for intolerant parents and love for the BBC and Cerrie Burnell.

19 comments:

Lauri said...

Seriously? scaring the kids? Ridiculous!

I think you need to add your two cents to their message boards. You obvioulsy feel passionate about it...with good reason!

Heidi said...

WOW! that is so so sad. I love it that you spoke your peace, but my favorite is that you said asking leads to accepting. SO true. I really hope those parents really have a change of heart!

Amber Nish said...

I am not sure if I should laugh at your misfortune with Grayden earlier, or be furious at your misfortune of witnessing such prejudice that obviously hits close to home!! The kids totally dont care, and I think it is so great of that show and the BBC network to make such a great judgement call! I may have the kids watch it just to show my support...will that even make a difference?? Ahh, well, it does in my mind..and if nothing else, it will expose them to people of all kinds!! Thanks for sharing!

Kelly said...

Great post! How sad that there are parents out there that are so ignorant. I think it's great that they have someone who is a little different. It shows people like Reid that it is perefctly OKAY to be different.

Jen said...

That makes me so mad that parents are acting like that. It's so true that kids don't even care. I'm so glad I put my kids in a preschool with children who have different disabilities. Lauren and Ethan both have friends with some type of disability. Like your mom said, you should write in with your two cents.

Traci Elizabeth said...

Have you seen some of the weird characters on childrens shows?? I think those are more likely to scare a kid than a lady who is missing a hand. Some people are so close minded...When I saw her clip, all I could think was.."I like her shirt and sweater".

jeanine said...

I totally thought of that character from Maya and Miguel when I started reading this post... and then you mentioned him too :)
I really can't believe that people are so upset about this! What a perfect opportunity to teach your children! I think it shows that the parents are scared of these disabilities... because kids certainly aren't.
There is a man at Sam's Club that checks your reciept at the door. He is missing one leg. William thinks he's the greatest... because he always talks to the boys and draws a silly picture on the reciept. The first few times William asked me about it... and I reminded him of his friend Reid. Now he doesn't even talk about it. It doesn't really matter to him now that he's had his questions answered. I think most kids are that way.

Kelly said...

That is outrageous and so something to stand up for! I agree with you totally- it is so sad to see the ignorance in people- especially parents!! Hard to believe and understand! Thanks for bringing this to light with Cerrie- I had not heard of the show, but will try to find it on our cable.
Oh, and the Grayden story is hilarious- time to put the spices much higher, eh?!

Sheryl said...

Love your post! There is nothing like clearing it up for the close minded! I have an aunt that has the exact same situation, and we grew up with a knowledge that some are born different. It is a thought we all need to embrace. Three cheers for the BBC!

Hubba's Thoughts said...

If people are worried about their kids just don't let them watch it.. I agree with what she said in the interview.. Tell the kids what happened and then they will accept it and move on! She seems like a sweet girl..

amelia said...

Oh, this ticks me off. The comments they showed? "How do I explain to my child why she has half an arm?" YOU TALK TO YOUR KID! Oh my gosh, this is ridiculous. Glad you wrote about it.

utmomof 5 said...

I am floored that parents would do that!! Heaven forbid should they have to have a conversation with thier child about it! Just like some of us have blue eyes or red hair or different colored skin, Heavenly Father made her that way.

WOW, I am really shocked by this!

Glad you brought it to my attention.

AshnRuss said...

That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. How is she scary? She looks so sweet. People need to take the advice of President Monson and be kind to one another.

Amanda B. said...

Holy cow!!! That is crazy! No wonder you are angry- I am too and I don't have a kid with a "limb disability". It is total discrimination. You are right that if it was race, it would be racism. And, that kids are naturally curious and accepting. Of course they will ask questions, but then will just move on and accept them. I also can't stand the thought of people aborting just because something may be "wrong." How egotistical and awful to think that someone may be less than human and have no purpose just because they are "different." If kids are allowed to learn about these things and accept them, what a beautiful world we will ultimately live in. If stupid adults would just keep their mouth shuts and calm down, maybe we would have a chance to get there.

Kids being scared of the lady? Please..... that's just pathetic!

Autumn said...

Ridiculous, pathetic and absurd. I am so sick of all the idiots in the world and how they manage to get any attention. I think the best thing might be for the network to just ignore the comments. Obviously its past that stage. I'd love to know if there's a contact to cheer this girl on and give her kudos. I'm so sure-my kid is scared. Lets use the one half of your brain that you HAVE: If you find something so offensive, don't watch it!! Seriously ridiculous.

Autumn said...
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Genn said...

Katie, I have not heard about this. I was shocked after reading your post that any parent could possibly say that she is scaring their kids. What that man on the clip said was so true, that if anyone says she should not be on tv because she is not what they deem to be "perfect" then they need to look inside themselves.

It infuriates me that there is such ingnorance out there. That is exactly why people continue to discriminate, because they are taught to do so by their parents.

I agree with Traci, all I thought when I saw her was, Oooh, cute hair, cute belt and sweater. And ooh, I like her necklace.

AKA Rosa said...

Hey Katie, This just makes me shake my head at why some parents would be that way. What a great opportunity for them to teach that they are not taking advantage of.

Hey, I tagged you on my blog. Knew it was right up your alley.

trentnjeanmorello said...

The parents that have a problem with this would have never lasted in my high school...there was a girl with no arm, a boy without both of his legs and several others. These kids were some of the popular ones though because they were so nice and fun to be around. Seriously, why does it matter if someone doesn't have a leg or an arm...body parts have NOTHING to do with their personality!

When I saw the Cerrie my first thought was how beautiful she was...I just wonder if these parents realize that their ignorance is going to be passed on to their children? Crazy!