Editor's Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, we asked our "New Normal" contributors to reflect on the intersection of gratitude and disability. We'd love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments below! Read parts one and two here.
Like most people of all faiths, I am grateful for family. Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday includes traditions involving family, food and celebration. I am thankful for the people with disabilities and, in many cases, their families who have taught me a lot about that word family and about how struggles to improve society and to improve their local communities have results in that almost mythical tide that raises all boats.
People with disabilities and their families have made our country a better place. I am also thankful for those same people not giving up, continuing to strive for improvement in our country and in the world. We have made such great progress that the obstacles that remain could appear daunting, and cause people to give up. Again, thankfully, that is not happening.
Finally I hope that all people with disabilities in our communities get to celebrate this Thanksgiving with people they care about, with special food, conversation and camaraderie. I also know that too many people with disabilities won’t get to experience that gift of family this Thanksgiving. Maybe next year they will.
Steven Eidelman is the H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Human Services Policy and Leadership at The University of Delaware and the faculty director of The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities. He has worked for the last 35 years to help people with disabilities lead full lives in the community.