Once, my colleagues and I were commissioned to design ‘something fun for children’ for an event. “As long as it wasn’t a bouncy castle, because all the others did that.” We thought it was an opportunity to change the minds of the hundreds of children who would attend the event. We wanted to give them the idea that disabled children are actually super cool and tough.
We designed a real pirate island, with a treasure. On the day of the event, we dressed up as pirates and drew scars on our faces. We invited children to come and find the treasure. They would have to work together in small groups to build a bridge to the treasure chest full of tasty cookies. Soon the children were lining up.
We looked at them sternly one by one and said, “We don’t think you can handle this, because you’re not real pirates at all, everyone can see that. Real pirates have already had adventures. As a result, they have a handicap: a patch for an eye, or a wooden leg or a hook instead of a hand. We don’t think you’ve experienced anything yet.” Then they looked very taken aback. “Or do you also want a handicap?” Yes, they desperately wanted that. Some received a splint around the arm or leg from us, others special glasses that made their vision blurred or another ‘disability’. They proudly showed it to their parents. Then they were dressed up like pirates and were allowed to get to work. They discovered that it was quite challenging, but also fun to build a bridge together. Many immediately lined up after finding the treasure to be allowed one more time.
At one point a boy stood in line who turned out to be blind. The other children looked at him in admiration. “That’s a REAL pirate!” one whispered.
Tomorrow, when I lose my breast and gain a long scar, I’ll be a true adventurous pirate, too. But fortunately a peace-loving one, who is already perfectly happy with her own possessions.