As we enter our 4th decade of “walking with” children and adults with disabilities and their families and friends (George is actually in his 5th decade) we are more convinced than ever about the power of perception, attitude, and personal contact to impact life experiences. The power of the media to shape attitudes and thus policies and behavior toward children and adults with disabilities is huge. Millions of dollars have been spent by government, private, and advocacy groups to buy time on television and radio as well as in various print media to share the story of children and adults with disabilities with the general public. There has been some progress in this effort at “public information and education.” There has even been some inclusion of actors and characters with disabilities in some sitcoms on commercial and cable T.V.
Now, with the incredible energy, passion, and commitment of Howard Renensland, and his wife Kathy Forbes and with the inspiration of their daughter Victoria and the support of their youngest daughter, Olivia, a new 24 hour/7 day a week opportunity (with-TV) is emerging to give voice to all children and adults with any and all disabilities and their families. The full spectrum of life from birth to death, in all its pain, joy, hopes and fears will be presented (in fact is being presented in this blog format) by and with people with disabilities themselves. Programs including news, current issues and trends, political viewpoints across the spectrum, sports (a place to see and understand the incredible stories of world class athletes participating in the Paralympics this summer in China), Comedy, Theatre, the Arts in all its forms, Music, Fiction, Biographies and on and on are now being created by talented people with and without disabilities working in cooperation and support of one another. We believe this magnificent effort concentrates the talents and energy of people without voice to create products of substance and quality which will entertain, educate, and perhaps inspire others to positive action. We believe many new and emerging talented people will be given a platform to share their story and gifts – we know some who are contributing even as we write this.
We predict within a few years writers, technicians, professional actors, news anchors, sportscasters, dancers, musicians, artists, and “gifted” people of all types will be “discovered” by those of us in the “general public.” We will wonder where they have been – why they have been hidden away for so long. We will agree with some; we will disagree with others; in other words the full spectrum of emotions present in a truly inclusive community will be present.
We are honored to be on this exhilarating and most difficult journey with all who have joined the family of With-TV. We are reminded of the profound triad of Schopenhauer: All truth (change) passes through 3 stages: First, it is ridiculed as irrelevant; then it is violently (vigorously) opposed; and finally it is accepted as self evident. We share the challenges of the journey through the first two stages and look forward to the experience of the third – full acceptance – full inclusion.
Pat Beeman and Geoge G. Ducharme, Co-Directors