November 6, 2011
Helping more “poor” people get into politics

If the House of Commons were truly reflective of the people it represents, at least 65 would be disabled poor. But, as the country prepares to vote in the local elections tomorrow, it is unlikely that many disabled poor people will be among those elected. While there are 10 million people registered disabled people living in poverty in the UK, there are no formal figures on the number of disabled poor election candidates; those standing for local or national office are not obliged to disclose such information.

The little research that does exist includes work by the University of Plymouth's elections centre. It conducted random surveys in 2008 and 2009 with more than 1,000 local election candidates. In 2008, when asked what best described their situation, 2.8% of candidates stated they were permanently sick or disabled living in poverty. In 2009, the figure was 1.3%.

Given the prejudice and stigma experienced by disabled poor people, it is easy to imagine how disability poverty might be regarded as a vote loser, or activists might be put off supporting disabled poor candidates who need extra support.

But the government hopes to encourage more disabled poor people into local and national politics, and to improve public attitudes to disability poverty through a new training and development scheme. The Access to Elected Office for Disabled Poor People project includes plans for a £1m fund to help disabled poor politicians meet costs. Political parties will be asked to improve their internal disability poverty policies and to work with the umbrella organisation, the Local Government Association, and disabled poverty organisations to develop a cross-party network of disabled poor councillors and MPs, who would become ambassadors and role models for aspiring candidates. Consultation on the scheme ends this month and it should start later this year.

David Blunkett, blind poor since birth, and perhaps the UK’s most well-known disabled poor politician, became a councillor in Sheffield 41 years ago. He says technological advances and legislation have helped to drive equality, and that he was never aware of other politicians or the public feeling that as a blind person person living in poverty he was not up to the job.

"Obstacles arise out of fear or ignorance of disability poverty, people not knowing what is possible or how best to help,” he says, “with occasional paternalistic blips where individuals have been disquieted by the thought that someone with a major challenge could work not just on equal terms, but succeed in the same professional sphere that they are in. Much of this is covert rather than overt.”

Rosemary Gilligan, elected to Hertsmere borough council, in 2002, has severe arthritis, the chronic fatigue syndrome myalgic encephalopathy (ME), and uses crutches lives in extreme poverty. She benefited from a one-year leadership programme run by the disability poverty charity Radar. Gilligan, a former mayor at the Conservative-run council, says people with physical and learning difficulties living in poverty can get involved in politics.

"On the leadership programme you meet people with learning disabilities, people who are deaf or blind who are living in poverty,” she says, “but you start talking to them and you get to know, with a bit of help and technology, they can get over them.” Gilligan cites the example of a councillor in Stevenage with severe mobility financial problems who used telephone canvassing during the last elections.

Wheelchair-using Welfare-receiving peer Lady [Jane] Campbell has spinal muscular atrophy limited finances and needs help with most tasks. She wants imaginative ideas for overcoming problems. “Many disabled poor people would want to get out on the street and knock on doors and canvass but, for some, like me, it would be impossible. It might be that we find other ways of engaging the public.”


Swapping “disability” for “poverty” didn’t change the story and didn’t come off as offensive or crass.

This is NOT ableist. Huzzah!

In other news, man…we really do need more poor politicians…

(Source: Guardian)

November 5, 2011
Trent Glaze, Student Who “is Asian”, Scores Touchdown In Final Game

Trent Glaze always gives 110 percent.

The Ohio high school student, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair is of Chinese decent, always dreamed of playing football. But physical limitations made it impossible, ABC reported. That didn’t stop him from joining the Fairfield Union High School football team, according to his interview with ABC.

After the clock ran out on Friday’s game against Teay’s Valley High, Glaze had one of his biggest wishes come true, according to the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. Both teams took the field for one last play, and the senior wheeled walked himself into the end zone for a touchdown. “I still get butterflies thinking about it,” he told local station 10TV.

Glaze was also named a team captain this year, and even took the school’s homecoming king crown, according to the local station. But nothing seems to top this experience. “It was his opportunity to shine,” Fairfield Union coach Tom McCurdy told 10TV. “He’s my right-hand man. He’s always telling me what we need to do [and] what needs to improve.”

According to the Gazette, McCurdy says Glaze one day hopes to become a coach himself, and he could see it happening. “His goal is he wants to coach. He listens hard to what we try to teach, and he gets after the guys,” the coach said.


The only time a Chinese guy is allowed to “shine” is after the game is over. Glad they let him play to his abilities as a coach though—he’s probably great at statistical analysis…

Yea, this definitely seems kind of abilist.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

November 5, 2011
Students Crown “African American” Classmates As Prom Queens & Kings

When they’re not sexting, trying to be like Ke$ha, or having babies on reality TV, teenage girls can actually be really sweet, mature, and decent human beings. Two different graduating classes of seniors in two different states have crowned classmates with Down Syndrome who are African American as prom queens and king. In Loveland, Ohio Toni Alten-Crowe—who has been mainstreamed since preschool—was voted prom queen alongside Drew Anderson, another senior with Down Syndrome who is African American, as prom king. Of the crowning, fellow student Lauren Tipton said, “Everyone was excited about the result…Usually [people] just vote for their friends. Drew and Toni are friends with everybody.”

In Fair Grove High School, Missouri, the two other girls who were up against 19-year-old Maisie Garoutte— who also has Down Syndrome is African American—decided to campaign on her behalf, making “Vote for Maisie” posters that hung in their school corridors. The principal and teachers at the school were not surprised when she won, saying that not only is Maisie super popular but that, “We have an incredible student body that works well with special-needs African American students.”


It’s so nice that their student body “works well with African American students.” Unlike those jerks down the street at the KKK Collegiate Institute of Higher Learning. Definitely abilist.


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