The International Peace Day, observed around the globe on September 21 each year, is about friendship, compassion, and hope. All these values are the heart and soul of what the Nathan Ebanks Foundation stands for. This year more than any other in our modern history, we are being called into account to practice, promote and lobby for peace within our homes, our community, and the world at large.
We invite you to join us in the 2020 peace day challenge. Under the theme “Shaping Peace Together” our board and management, our partners and our volunteers are committing to rising above our differences and contributing to building a culture of peace.
While we want peace for all, irrespective of culture, race, or religion, we wish to shine the spotlight on the too often marginalised and excluded community, children and adults with disabilities and special needs. Some development has taken place for the inclusion of people with disabilities for sure, but COVID-19 made us realise that there is still a far way for us to go in making our society fully inclusive for this population.
We continue to stand for the inclusivity, access and accommodation for children (and adults with disabilities) in communities across the world.
The Nathan Ebanks Foundation, a nonprofit organization tucked away in the beautiful isle of Jamaica has been doing its part through various national and community initiatives to contribute to the solutions and bring about systemic change for children with disabilities. Our Founder, Christine Staple Ebanks has written several books and publications aimed at carrying the authentic voices and experiences of children with disabilities and their families. Her newest book and first children’s book, I’m Just Like You But Different: A Story About Living with Cerebral Palsy is an inspiring example of engendering peace.
“The book shares the experience of my son Nathan when he was in kindergarten and was being excluded by his peers. Nathan has no friends as the other children would not play with him because he looked different. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He is non-verbal and cannot walk. He has a caregiver who went to school with him and fed him his meals and pushed his wheelchair. In the eyes of other five-year-olds, he was a baby.”
Christine wrote the story to share this problem of exclusivity which no one considered or gave much importance to, up till now. She used construction paper to create a book and read the story to his classmates. There was an immediate shift in the other children’s attitude towards Nathan. Through the book, they came to understand why he was different. They learned that Nathan and other children with disabilities were just like them in many ways, and needed friends just like them.
They learned how to play with him. They accepted him into their circle wholeheartedly, and it was the best school year for Nathan up to that point.
For Peace Day 2020, we are taking up the #MyPeaceDayChallenge and will read a book on disability and inclusion. We will be reading the book ‘I’m Just Like You But Different: A Story About Living with Cerebral Palsy’ on social media on the day. The book beautifully portrays friendship, hope, compassion and love, some of the themes for the Peace Day movement. The book was brilliantly designed and illustrated by Future by Design Studio (@redesigningtomorrow) in a way that captures the heart and spirit of this powerful story of inclusion and hope.
Erin Mercer, speech, and language pathologist, through skilful developmental and editorial recommendations brought out the themes of friendships, support, and belonging, which helped to make the book interactive for young readers. All in all, this beautiful children’s book is a powerful advocacy tool for children (and adults) living with CP everywhere and sends the message that every child with CP (and other special needs) matters.
Every child has the right to belong and have meaningful friendships, no matter their abilities or disabilities. The book is available in e-book and print formats on Amazon worldwide.
We identify with the meaning of peace with love, hope, acceptance, respect and friendships, that go beyond physical or spiritual differences. That is why we must understand as a community, that we should promote friendships in which people with disabilities are not scorned or excluded or abused or looked down on. Instead, they are honoured and supported. It means looking at the person for who he or she is, rather than just for his disability.
Such a mindset needs to be developed in the early years in children so that they can grow up to be accepting and inclusive adults who exhibit the right kind of sensitivity towards this.
We invite you to join our YouTube, Instagram and Facebook channels @raisingspecialneeds featured and join with us over this next week (leading up to Peace Day) through the eyes of young children, we give a fresh perspective on peace and why it matters that we teach this important spirit to our children.
On International Peace Day (September 21), a video will be shared on our YouTube channel with tips on how to talk to young children about peace, friendship and compassion through the pages of ‘I’m Just Like You But Different: A Story About Cerebral Palsy’.
This activity will be done by Erin Mercer, speech and language pathologist and editor for the book.
We hope that you will join us for International Peace Day in “Shaping Peace Together”.