Well, Ted Lasso has come to an end (the BEST series in the history of television) and my interest in soccer, albeit fleeting, is being filled with the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand/Australia.
As I write this, USA has just tied with Netherlands, who they beat to win the World Cup previously. Thus, my column this month is inspired by Carson Pickett. This 29-year-old footballer (the other football) is the first soccer player with a limb difference to play for the US Women’s National Team. If you have missed the phenom, Carson was born without her left forearm and hand. Her “high five” to a toddler in the stands with a similar limb difference recently became a viral sensation.
I imagine for that toddler, his family, and others like him, seeing a professional athlete who looks like them can inspire pride in themselves. Disability representation can show us that one with a disability need not be limited. Disability does not define a person but is only a part of their identity. It shows family the potential for their loved one, society to not underestimate disabled people, and for people with disabilities to see themselves in those successful representatives.
If I’m not able to experience the Carson Pickett’s of the world there are many other ways to integrate positive disability representation into our lives – my favorite is books. I get to try on the idea of what would I do if…I was blind in WWII Germany (All the Light You Cannot See) or what I would do if I knew when I would die (The Measure). We have written before about recommended books to teach children about disabilities. You should add these to the list: Many Ways To Be Mighty: 35 Books Starring Mighty Girls with Disabilities | A Mighty Girl. These thirty-five books cover topics from ADHD and autism to scoliosis and Tourette’s. Schools should consider adding them to your school library (a great Mighty Money Grant request). Consider one as a gift for a child you know whether or not they have a disability.
Go out and kick a ball….and Kick it Like Pickett.