I feel so honored to be able to launch this new opportunity for communication about One Step Beyond and other topics so interesting to those of us who have Intellectual Challenges, are parents, guardians, siblings, or friends of someone who has Intellectual Challenges, or just have passion for helping individuals with intellectual challenges.
I am the Founder and CEO of One Step Beyond. We are an organization of individuals who have a vision for true participation and inclusion in our communities of people who have intellectual challenges. And we are committed to providing programs that open doors of opportunity and remove barriers that prevent people with intellectual challenges to achieve their personal best in any avenue of life they choose.
One barrier I want to remove right from the start is the term “disability.” When we label an individual as one with a disability, we immediately focus on that condition that the mainstream world sees as a disability. We fail to see and concentrate on that person’s ability. Yes, the folks we are committed to serve and help have challenges, in some cases, significant challenges that make it difficult for them to access all the opportunities that those of us with less significant challenges simply take for granted. We all have challenges physical and intellectual. I, for example, am not very tall. As much as I loved basketball, when I was younger, I couldn’t compete with those taller than me. No one ever said to me, “Poor Mimi, you will never be able to play for the WBA.” On the contrary, people frequently encouraged me to write, a skill I am fairly accomplished at and that I enjoy. They focused on my ability, not my disability.
That is what the people I work with at One Step Beyond do. They look for the ability, talent, aptitude, and interests in our participants who attend OSBI and provide opportunities for personal growth in those areas. These areas may be music, art, sports, team leadership, humor, congeniality, compassion, food preparation, automobile care and maintenance; the list is as long as the abilities we see in the people we work with each day.
One Step Beyond was inspired by my daughter Dylan who has Down Syndrome. When Dylan was 18 and had a couple of years left before she would graduate from High School, I began to look for that opportunity for her to continue to grow personally. For her brother and sister, the sky was the limit. If they worked hard, they could achieve anything they set their mind to. Dylan’s future in 2001, when I started my search, was dismal: limited, at best, employment training and opportunity, no continuing education opportunity, no opportunity to access the community with friends after “program” hours, no opportunity to explore the arts. Well, obviously, this was unacceptable. Thus, with the faith, trust, and support of parents, foundations, donors, and a very small, but passionate, staff, One Step Beyond took that first step.
Thirteen years later, I am very proud of the good work we do and the lives we have touched in such positive ways. Yes, like all of us, Dylan has challenges, and hers are greater than average. But because of One Step Beyond, she is able to work, she participates in a year round calendar of sports activities, she continues to learn new skills, and perhaps most importantly, she is out in the community with her friends on Friday nights just as any other 30 year old would be.
Please join me in sharing your personal stories on the Next Step Blog. Communication is power. Thank you,