Endings and Beginnings

Lots of fun and excitement over the last several days in the residential program at Target. As the second year CLMs completed their studies and graduated from McDaniel College, parties in their honor were held at multiple sites. As the graduates moved out, it was time to spruce up apartments with new paint and reorganization. New CLMs have been trickling in over the past few months. There are spots available if you know of any recent college graduates looking for an opportunity to continue their academic work toward a master’s degree. The program is unique and has no out-of-pocket expense in earning the degree.

On Thursday night, Target joined The Arc of Carroll County and the Carroll County Arts Council for the local Sprout Film Festival. Sprout is a New York City-based film festival dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities grow through challenging, creative, and fun experiences that enhance socialization, self-confidence, and inclusion. Each year, Sprout curates a collection of films made by and about individuals with disabilities. Their show ‘travels’ from place to place as local agencies host screenings.

Students from my Intro to Special Education course and Target participants enjoyed the opening reception and films. I connected emotionally with several of the movies, each relating to a memory or experience shared with those individuals with disabilities who have been my friends over the past three and a half decades. A mother shared her communities experience when her young son joined the local little league baseball team. Australian families were recorded as the children interviewed their parents about their journey from birth to the present. Each interview ended with the child asking if their parents were proud of them—holy buckets of salty tears.

My favorite film was The Interview. In it, a man with a disability poses as an HR manager with a law firm and conducts an interview. Without too many spoilers, the film shines a light on the limiting perspective the non-disabled community has on those with disabilities. That one with a disability might only be qualified to manage the coffee cart in a business setting when those with disabilities are often just as capable as those who do not need additional support in the workplace. Without critical evaluation, we may look at someone with a disability and immediately take a ‘they can’t’ perspective. We must reverse this stereotype and move towards a ‘why the heck not?’ approach. I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival. If Spout comes to your town, go check out the films. The tickets are usually inexpensive, and you might have something to think about for a long time.

The week was capped off with a cook-out with a few of the Carroll County residential homes on Saturday night. My friend is visiting, so we started the day by running to Costco to stock up on meat for the cookout. The grill cooperated, and I enjoyed flipping hotdogs, sausages, and steaks. The weather cooperated, so we all sat outside well past the activity’s scheduled end time. Sitting with everyone and enjoying each other’s company with good food and a little music, the conversation was pleasant. A satisfying end to spring and the hectic schedule of the past few months. A welcome marking of the beginning of summer and many more evenings spent similarly.