Monday, June 21, 2010
Love My Smile
When my family is out in the community, I know we can be quite the spectacle sometimes. The two in wheelchairs often race through the store aisles - Chip plays 'reckless driving' with Ashley while she giggles loudly - Ronnie burps loudly and we all pause for just a second and then burst out laughing - we put funny hats or clothes on one another - in short, we have a blast while getting our errands accomplished.
During an outing this past Saturday, we were heading to Target. Just as we pulled into the parking lot and began unloading all our paraphenalia, a van and a car loaded with adult group home residents and their 'staff' also pulled in. The residents were happy and excited, some skipping, some laughing, some chatting loudly about what they wanted to buy. The staff, however, did not appear the least bit happy.
The staff began shouting orders to the residents, "quiet down!", "get over here", "go in the bathroom right now", and "get away from the water fountain." It didn't take long for the smiles and eye twinkles to disappear from the residents. They fell into line and continued to follow whatever orders they were given.
This observation is typical of what has always bothered my about groups homes and the staff hired to support the residents. It's a job to the staff, and a job that many don't seem to like or enjoy. And their lack of enjoyment with their jobs has a direct effect on the folks they are hired to support.
It saddens me that people have their joy tamped down. Joy is often difficult for group home residents, or others with disabilities, to find. Let's do everything we can to support people when they are happy and joyful...even if it's a job.