There is something about a moment.
Fleeting, intangible, insignificant in the grand scheme, yet a moment when “great” has the energy to be without end, to live on in us and through the people we touch. A great moment has the power to create itself, yet can never be recreated. Rather than garnering the intentions and desires of a human design, a great moment is stripped down, it holds little baggage. It is beyond our scope, it is other-worldly. And if we are fortunate enough, great moments collect as we age, and as we age we reflect on this ever-growing collection of great moments, a treasure trove of beautiful, life-giving experiences.
No one writes down “great moment” on their calendar, planning for the time when one will happen again…
Moments unfold and great moments emerge.
For people who are not engaged in the community, do not have close friends or family, or lack opportunities to be in valued social roles, great moments can be rare… This holds true for people with the label of disability, who without social integration have been separated from ordinary social opportunities, aka: the stuff that great moments are made of.
John O’Brien puts it like this:
“Many people with developmental disabilities continue to lack connections beyond their relationships with their families and other people in the human service settings they attend. This reflects a history of discrimination against people with developmental disabilities which is expressed in multiple barriers to social integration…(THEREFORE) Social integration is a form of work that people with developmental disabilities and the non-disabled people in their networks, associations, and friendships can only do with each other. It is work in the sense that any relationship is work: people have to reach out to engage others, act in ways that satisfy each other’s expectations, and maintain trust with one another,” (O’Brien, “Perspectives On ‘Most Integrated’ Services for People with Developmental Disabilities”).
Last week, in front of a crowded bar, a group of friends announced their brain-child: the Cincy Story Mural. This project was formed out of a relationship built between Starfire U member Krista and Aaron of DIY Printing, and has since grown to include Public Allies of Cincinnati, Cincy.com, and a group of dedicated artists and photographers willing to see the project through. It was a great moment for two great friends.
“All these people came, which is kind of a feather in Krista’s hat,” said Dan, Krista’s father. “She’s involved with these organizations that I didn’t even know existed. And they all treat her as an equal, which is really nice.”
The ties being built are in the ordinary, public places outside of Krista’s family life and away from the Starfire building. These relationships prove that barriers to social integration are only stepping stones toward shared positive experiences: “which give rise to an appreciation of what there is to enjoy in a person’s company and what the person can contribute to our common life,” (John O’Brien, “Most Integrated”).
“KBs keeping me busy we’re doing awesome work together we are looking forward to doing these mural projects,” said Aaron of DIY Printing. “Without KB, I wouldn’t be smiling this big, she’s got my heart.”
“Aaron is my good friend. He’s on my side,” added Krista.