Did you hear about the 'walk up' — not walkout? It's a big fail.

I woke up on March 14 to students walking out of school in protest of America's inaction on gun violence.

Fed-up student after fed-up student filled my television screen, and I found myself getting a little teary-eyed as I watched them stand together in solidarity outside their schools. These kids have seen and experienced far too much.

I perused my Facebook feed and saw messages of support and encouragement to kids participating in the National School Walkout.


I also encountered various iterations of this:

On March 14, encourage students to walk up. Walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite her to sit with you. ...

Posted by Amy Flynn on Thursday, March 8, 2018

Such posts, advising kids to put their energies into being kinder instead of engaging in civil protest, are accompanied by the hashtag #WalkUpNotOut.

The gist of #WalkUpNotOut is that protest is pointless and kids should try to be more inclusive in order to stop gun violence. The premise of the argument is that America's epidemic of school shootings isn't about gun policy, it's about kids feeling excluded, lonely, and unloved.

The implication? If kids would just be nicer to one another, this issue would be solved.

The message has gotten widespread support — particularly among gun rights advocates — but also among idealistic peacemakers drawn to anything advocating kindness.

I get it. Kids who have healthy friendships and support systems don't generally decide to mass murder their classmates. That seems like a logical point.

However, it's a deflection from the issue at hand — and a potentially dangerous one at that.

What #WalkUpNotOut basically says is, "You might get shot at school because you're not being nice enough."

The problem with the message of "walk up, not out" is that it's essentially victim-blaming. It's like telling a domestic abuse sufferer that if she'd just been nicer to her abuser, she wouldn't have been hit. That the issue of school shootings isn't really about shootings, but about being nicer.

Image via Saul Loeb/Getty Images.

As one Facebook user pointed out, it inadvertently sends the wrong message to the wrong people:

No doubt, all of us could be kinder to our fellow humans. But there have been bullies, loners, and outcasts forever. There are bullies, loners, and outcasts in other countries. Kids being unkind to one another is not a uniquely modern nor uniquely American phenomenon. But regular school shootings are.

I'm not saying kids shouldn't be kinder. But kindness alone doesn't solve our unique gun violence problem.

I’ve not been in a single school in the past decade that has not utilized character education and had inclusion messages plastered all over the walls. Many schools have character curriculums designed to help students be good citizens, good friends, and good people in general. Such programs can have a positive impact on students and schools.

But are they the magic answer to gun violence? No. Of course kids should be kind. Of course we should be encouraging kids to reach out to kids who are lonely. But what about when that's not enough?

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images.

We have too many guns and they're too easy to get. That's the only difference between our kids and kids around the world.

One could make the argument that America has a "niceness" problem, but unkindness is a universal human reality. We are not more kindness-challenged than other places in the world, and messages like #WalkUpNotOut aren't the answer to our unique gun violence problem. Other countries think we're ridiculous because of our gun culture. Honestly, I'm sitting here thinking the same thing.

Kids can "walk up" to be nicer to one another and they can "walk out" to advocate for gun control legislation. Many of these teens are soon-to-be voters who've been traumatized by active shooter drills their entire lives. Let's not squash their civic engagement with platitudes about niceness. They deserve better than that.

True


Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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