Thursday, January 9, 2014

Beck Gambill: Be the Tour Guide

Photo courtesy Beck Gambill
Until a few years ago I had never seen Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Tetons, or the pacific coast. Of course I'd seen pictures, seen documentaries. I'd watched movies capturing the contours of unfamiliar geography. But until an elk the size of a horse was standing outside my car window I couldn't fully appreciate the beauty of the wild west.

The people around you may want to treat your child correctly. They may have heard that people with Down syndrome are special and valuable; but until they experience them in relationship they can't really understand.

Just like I had missed out on the grandeur of the Tetons until I stood at their base, the world around you will miss out on your child's unique brand of beauty until they get up close and personal.

You are a tour guide. The world needs the wonder of your child, they've heard of the beauty, help them experience it. I acted silly the first time I saw a moose a few feet away, when a tumble weed rolled in front of our car, when the snow on mountains dazzled my eyes. People may act silly around your child as they take in the newness of their features and expressions, but that's what some of us do when we see something new. As we learn to process what we're seeing and tuck it away in our frame of reference.

Of course some people aren't impressed with the view. They will want to exploit people with disability for their own gain or destroy them out of fear. You're a ranger, and some of us have chosen to be rangers with you, patrolling a national treasure. Diligence is necessary, patience and passion your tools.

The beauty of America, of the world, is varied, huge, unique. And so it is with people. It takes us all protecting and highlighting the beauty of diversity to make sure it's preserved.

So when you're weary, remember, you are an ambassador for beauty. The world may not know it, but we all need the beauty you steward. Be our tour guides. Changing the world's perception of disability will take us all, reaching across whatever divides us, to link our hands and hearts in purpose.

I'm a better person because I've seen the Tetons, vast western plains, and Mount Rushmore. I have a deeper appreciation of the grandness of our country, and my imagination and open mindedness has grown.

I'm also a better person because I've met tour guides like my friends Dianne Ripley, Ellen Stumbo, and Tara Lakes. In person and on-line they have taken me on a tour of Down syndrome, broadening my understanding and appreciation for an area of the world I would otherwise have missed out on. If they hadn't bravely shared their experiences, fears, and joys I would be a poorer person. Empathy, understanding, imagination, compassion, humor, and so much more has been nurtured in my own heart because of their honesty.

Who in your life is in need of a tour? It can be a challenge, not everyone likes to leave the comfort of their world. But what a role you have, opening up a frontier of beauty to the world around you!

Photo courtesy Beck Gambill
About the Author:   Beck Gambill is passionate about encouraging women to use their influence for other women and has written the ebook,  Sister to Sister; A Mentor’s HandbookShe is the founder of Mercy’s Refuge, an outreach to the vulnerable of Serbia. You can connect with her at her blog The Accidental Mama  or on Facebook.


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