Tuesday, December 11, 2018

If you care about kids including ones with disabilities, show them this short film

I drove by one of our town's baseball fields the other day, and Ben said "New park!" Sure enough, they'd put up a new swing set nearby, complete with a blue adaptive swing. It was a happy sight—inclusive play starts with equipment that enables all children to participate. That can open doors to the kind of inclusion that's even harder: Getting children to welcome and actively include children with disabilities. Any one of us who's dealt with stares and whispers at the playground, let alone bullying, knows that story.

Yesterday, my friend Bronte shared an award-winning short animated film, Ian, that's about inclusion. It's based on the story of a fourth grader named Ian who has cerebral palsy, and the film happened thanks to his mom, Sheila Graschinsky. The family is based in Argentina but the film has no dialogue, to make its message universal. Sheila originally wrote a book about the everyday life of families of children with disabilities, to hand out to kids who snickered at her son. Ultimately, that lead to this beautiful film.

For me, Ian was a bit painful to watch. It hit close to home in small ways (like the part where Ian struggles to maintain control holding a cup as his peers watch) and large ways, too; Max has never had that (spoiler alert) happy ending. Although Max also hasn't experienced the sadness Ian feels in the movie—he is content with his life, it is me who has ached for more social opps for him—there are many children out there who long to belong. The truth is that inclusion doesn't always come naturally or easily to children without disabilities, who may be wary of ones who don't look or act like they do.

It's always helpful to have a springboard for conversations about inclusion. So take a few minutes—Ian is just seven minutes long, followed by clips of the real-life Ian—to watch this with your child and talk about it. You could also suggest that your child's teacher show it at school to get a discussion going. If you are a teacher or education, show kids this film. You and you and you and you have the power to help make the world a more welcoming place for children of all abilities.

Image: Screenshot/Ian


  1. Great short film! Every child should see it. I teared up because my daughter has CP and on the spectrum of difficulties, hers is very mild but I still some social issues that she struggles to be included with her peers.

  2. I think it's important for parents to keep in mind that some children and youth ... including some with disabilities ... are naturally introverts and loners. So just because your disabled child doesn't have close, deep friendships or loads of buddies, doesn't mean there is a problem. There might be, and if the child expresses sadness and a wish for more socialization, that's important to note. And bullying and exclusion are problems for any kid. But if your child seems consistently happy and basically content with their social life, maybe that's okay, even if it doesn't look like what you think a proper social life should look like. From what Ellen has written, Max seems basically happy with his social life, and his parents seem to recognize and respect that as well.

  3. I have Cerebral Palsy and never had issues making friends. Its VERY important not to force friendships for disabled people. Let friendship flow.

  4. Like Ben, I was always trawling for "New Parks".

    And sometimes when you least expect/anticipate it ...

    This Argentinian film is great especially that it is wordless. And it made me wonder if the Eva Peron Foundation and successor organisations were in the inclusive park business. [They did do all sorts of things but they seemed to be indoors or in model towns].

    Always happy to see a Liberty swing in a prominent spot in the park. And also the web swings.

    A good recent story I read in a tourist guide is about Sarah and her sister and friends. It is called "Ballarat and Surrounds" and the park is very famous.

  5. I can still remember being cruel in elementary and jr high school. I am so ashamed of those memories. I actually tried to stick up for the bullied kid, but when the taunters turned on me for doing so, I folded like a cheap suit. I wish I could go back. I couldn't stand 10 seconds of what he dealt with EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

  6. Beautiful film Thank you for sharing. I'm still processing how I feel about it. I wish it were easier for my special needs children to make friends. I think we all could be better at inclusion. Thank you.


Thanks for sharing!

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