Hidden Handicaps

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I recently made the decision to sign up with www.seatosea.org to help support their efforts to fund projects to help break the cycle of poverty. Anyone who has considered poverty recognizes it as a complex economic, social and spiritual issue. As such there is no simple answer.

One aspect of poverty is that there are often underlying handicaps. Often these handicaps are not immediately apparent. Recognizing the role that handicaps play in understanding poverty will hopefully create greater empathy for those who receive help.

In choosing to join the Sea to Sea bike tour for two weeks I have committed to an additional challenge of completing 10% or more of the tour with a ‘one wheel’ handicap. The unicycle handicap is meant to symbolize the handicaps that contribute to the chronic nature of poverty.

My choice to do 10% or more by unicycle grew out of my interest in unicycle riding and unicycle antics over the past 8 years. Unicycling is one way of staying fit, but more satisfying it the thrill it creates for both young and old when riding in public. It is interestingly a way to get respect from the skateboarding crowd in town. It’s heartwarming how a unicycle can open doors.

However, a unicycle also created challenges. One day while unicycling at Ontario Place, one of the security personnel stopped me and told me that riding a unicycle was not permitted. Strange enough, I had not seen any ‘no unicycle’ signs. With ‘no bicycle’ and ‘no skateboarding’ signs in sight, the message was rather clearly implied. I might have argued the case on a technicality but I had 6 of my grade 7&8 students in tow. I decided it was in my interest as a school principal to be a good role model in dealing with authority figures.

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Author: Jasper Hoogendam

I have been working in the field of elementary education since 1980 till my career ended due to a TBI. Renewable energy as part of 'walking lightly on this earth' has been and continues to be my interest since my teen years. Since early 2015 I have been learning to live with ABI (Acquire Brain Injury). In sharing my day to day successes and struggles, I am better able to understand how my life had changed and begin to accept the change. In sharing my experiences I'm hearing from caregivers and fellow ABI's. I'm encouraged when my experiences are helping others understand some of the complexity of living with ABI.

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