I was about to post my thoughts on the differences between vampires and zombies (coming next week!) when my mom sent me a link to an amazing movie, INCLUDING SAMUEL http://www.includingsamuel.com/, made by her friend, journalist Dan Habib. Dan's younger son has cerebral palsy. The film depicts a family--mother, father, brother--whose eyes have been opened to an unexplored part of our world through their handicapped family member. Samuel is wheelchair-bound and struggles to speak. He is also a happy, enthusiastic, engaged, regular child. Through the film, we journey with the Habib family, and many others, to more fully understand what it means to include people. We learn to open our minds and hearts, to listen and experience first and save judgment for later, and to recognize how our own lives are enriched when all people, whether their diversity is in ability, race, gender, age, income, or even dreams, are included.
This piece of work is compelling on so many levels but most of all for its honesty. By giving words and pictures to the wonders and the fears, the prejudices and the honest concerns individuals have about including diverse individuals in their schools and communities, it enables us all to have truthful and productive discussion. This film brought to mind books I have read that use the written word to bring us diverse characters so honestly depicted, so compelling that, like the story of Samuel, we feel driven to include--even jealous not to have met such unique individuals. Cynthia Lord's RULES and James Howe's THE MISFITS come immediately to mind, along with the latter title's wonderful legacy: http://www.nonamecallingweek.org/.
If you have a minute, watch the movie trailer at the website. Does it bring to mind a book, or books, that share this powerful honesty in its characterizations? Did it change your day?