Paul Burke is the living embodiment of selflessness, hard-work, dedication, and community spirit. He has dedicated decades of his time to volunteer work and helping others. Paul believes in the importance of people getting along with each other, and making friends with everybody.
Studies have found children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers.
Intervention is needed, but without overreacting or underreacting, which can make things more stressful for the child. Children must be taught to communicate and the classroom is the perfect place for teachable moments that promote respect. But that’s not all.
People involved globally each year in programs like Best Buddies, a non-profit that creates friendships, employment and leadership development for those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Members of Community Living Ontario, a non-profit, provincial confederation that advocates for people who have an intellectual disability to be fully included in all aspects of community life.
Children, youth and adults in Canada with intellectual disabilities who are registered in Special Olympics programs.
Special Olympics athletes who work. They are 5 times more likely to work than adults with an intellectual disability not enrolled in Special Olympics.
Community Living Ontario
There are 107 local Community Living associations across Ontario providing assistance for individuals, parents, educators and employers to help people who have an intellectual disability to be fully included.
This year the Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Spring Games are being held in Guelph, Ont.
The Special Olympics is “the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities through sports.”
Five Action Steps to disable the bullying of children with special needs:
Change starts with each individual. Stereotypes and misconceptions about disabilities and special
needs still exist in our classrooms and communities. Parents, educators and community leaders should lead
by example so others can follow in demystifying myths which perpetuate the problem.
Speak Up.If one suspects or witnesses a child with special needs being bullied, speak up, notify educators, parents, politicians or community leaders. Don’t be a bystander. A zero tolerance for bullies should exist in our
Disable Bullying.Share the possibilities and successes of people with special needs through each person’s social network. Examples include raising funds for for awareness and support programs.
Ask Questions.Many youth with special needs sometimes aren’t aware they are being bullied. Or because of their language and speech delays, it may be difficult for them to communicate when a bullying incident occurs. Caregivers and educators need to frame questions to children that allow insight into schoolyard or online activity.
Build Community.Children with special needs and their families are important member of each community. Invite them or their parents to participate in book clubs, PTA meetings, church groups, block parties, play dates and birthday parties. Get to know the neighbors regardless of their ability; it benefits the family, child with special needs AND the entire neighborhood as well. Students can create community by creating disability awareness programs or simply becoming a friend to a student with a disability. Civic leaders should always keep in mind this vulnerable demographic when voting or creating legislation to protect students.
A rewarding life is filled with challenge. So do not pity me, give me a chance.
Ryan Johnson, Special Olympics Athlete
Obviously, because of my disability, I need assistance. But I have always tried to overcome the limitations of my condition and lead as full a life as possible. I have traveled the world, from the Antarctic to zero gravity.