I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and spotted several members of the disability community posting their ‘wrist selfies’, showing off their awesome #InclusionMatters awareness bracelets that were distributed in honour of International Day of Disabled Persons.
‘Cool, where can I get one of those?’ I tweeted Green MP Mojo Mathers (one of the wrist selfie snappers). After all, I love me a bit of awareness jewellery! I have loads of ribbons, pins, bracelets, earrings and charms for a variety of causes close to my heart.
She replied that they were a limited edition, and had run out - but I could put myself on an email list to possibly get one in a year's time.
Excluded. From an initiative promoting inclusion no less! #WhatThe?
Looking longingly at all my star-bellied friends
Is this an exclusive-inclusive community I had stumbled upon? Or was this actually a clever marketing ploy so that non-disabled individuals (like myself) could gain a sense of what it’s like for actually disabled people on a daily basis? Either way, it worked. I’m feeling like one of Dr Seuss’ Sneetches looking longingly at all my star-bellied friends.
It made me think about my collection of awareness jewellery. In the grand scheme of things, do they really matter? Do they make you any more of an advocate for a cause if you are sporting the appropriate coloured ribbon on your jacket?
We all like to feel a part of a group - be it a cause, a community or a family - and wearing a trinket that symbolises your part in this group is a great way to show support for your co-members, and the movement as a whole.
A trinket I refuse to wear
A multi-coloured puzzle piece is the globally recognised symbol for autism, and to be 100% honest with you all, this is one trinket I refuse to wear. I bloody hate it! In fact, I would rather wear a pendant of a bedazzled baboon's bum than that puzzle piece!
The rainbow colours represent the wide-ranging autism spectrum, the puzzle itself is a symbol for the ‘puzzling’ nature of the neurological condition, as well as all the pieces that fit together to make a whole person. To me, I see ‘a missing piece,’ an incomplete puzzle, not a whole at all. That doesn't represent my child or her autism, no way! That’s why I prefer not to wear anything with this symbol on it. Here’s a link to my BLOG as to why I prefer the small and mighty hummingbird instead. If anyone asks me why I have made that decision, I happily tell them, which in my own way promotes awareness - which is the goal of this type of jewellery, after all.
In the end, I have realised that being included isn’t about wearing the appropriate ribbon or applying the new trending hashtag. It’s about equally walking the walk and talking the talk. It’s about wearing you heart on your sleeve, not paying top dollar for a limited edition charm to hang off your 18KT gold bracelet.
That’s because inclusion is actually about being accepted into a group without having to prove your worthiness. It’s about being free to be your unique self and have the same chances as anybody else.