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wheelchair

A wheelchair user offered some helpful tips for how to interact with them in daily life.

One of the best things about social media—besides the hilarious cat videos—is how it gives us all an opportunity to learn from one another. The ability to share an experience or a piece of wisdom or advice and have it be carried far and wide can be incredibly useful, especially when it comes from someone whose voice may not be heard as often as it should.

A perfect example is a recent thread by Ada Hubrig (@AdamHubrig) on Twitter explaining how and how not to interact with a person in a wheelchair. Hubrig says using a wheelchair has been "life-changing in the best way" for them, but the way they are treated when they are using a wheelchair can be annoying, frustrating, hurtful or just downright weird.

Some people don't have regular interactions with people who use wheelchairs and may have questions about what's appropriate and what's not. Some people might make assumptions about people using wheelchairs or be completely oblivious to how their prejudices are impacting their behavior. Hubrig's thread not only clarified some common issues wheelchair users deal with, but also opened up the conversation for people to ask some of the less obvious questions.


Hubrig opened their thread by explaining that they actually love their wheelchair, as they can't stand or walk for more than 10 minutes without it. However, they loathe how people treat them when they're using it.

Then they shared some tips on how to do better:

"First, remember that wheelchair users are people," they wrote. "We are more similar to you than different, we're just sitting down while you're standing up. You're likely around other people who are sitting as you stand all the time. Don't make it weird."

"Second, remembering that we're people, respect our autonomy," they continued. "If we're speaking and you have a question for me, don't ask my partner who is standing. As an example, medical professionals will often ask my partner my symptoms when I am RIGHT THERE. Please notice us."

The third piece of advice was to never touch a person's wheelchair or other mobility or medical advice unless you have been given permission. Hubrig said that people will often just roll them out of the way.

Yeah, don't do that. You wouldn't pick up a standing person and move them out of the way (hopefully). Same concept.

Hubrig went on to explain that no one is entitled to anyone else's medical history or trauma. "I get that you may mean well, but asking 'what happened' can be more difficult for some people than you realize," they wrote. "It's a lot of emotional labor to answer."

On a related note, don't ask about people's genitals. Ever. Seriously.

A tip for parents: "Please don't let your kids crawl on me or my wheelchair. My wheelchair isn't a toy."

"I like kids mostly, I do," Hubrig wrote. "But even if we weren't in a pandemic, I don't want any stranger up in my personal space like that. Once a kid ripped my ostomy bag off me. No plz."

Also, don't make judgments about a person's need for the wheelchair. "Some wheelchair users, like myself, don't use the wheelchair full time," Hubrig wrote. "I can walk/stand about ten minutes at a time, and use a cane for short distances. If you see a wc user standing/using a cane/whatever, don't assume we're faking. We don't use a wc for fun."

Not being believed can be a major barrier to people with disabilities utilizing the tools they need to live as fully and functionally as possible. "I have talked to many people whose life would be better with a mobility device but they don't use one. Because of how we treat people who use mobility devices."

That is a tragedy.

Finally, Hubrig summed up the basics:

"1.) Wheelchair users/disabled people ARE people. Act as such.

2.) Mind your business."

Seems simple enough, but as we all know, humans have a remarkable ability to not follow simple instructions.

Another person who uses a wheelchair, @FabledFelts, added a few more tips.

One of the common questions well-meaning people had was whether or not they should offer to help a person in a wheelchair if it appears they are struggling. On the one hand, you don't want to assume someone needs help just because they're in a wheelchair, but on the other, you don't want to leave them struggling if they do need help.

The consensus was that asking if someone needs help is almost always appropriate. Just don't assume they need help and jump in without asking (barring any obvious emergencies, of course).

Another question some had was whether it's appropriate to lean over or kneel down to talk to someone in a wheelchair. On the one hand, it might feel more respectful to put yourself on the same eye level as the person in the chair. On the other hand, you don't want to make them feel like you're infantilizing them. (This question was asked by a person who is hard of hearing, which adds another layer to the question as that's an accommodation that needs to be considered as well. But it was also asked by someone who simply wanted to know which wheelchair users preferred.)

Responses from wheelchair users varied a bit, but most agreed that standing was fine for brief exchanges, but pulling up a chair to talk to them at a similar height was appreciated for long conversations. It can be straining on the neck to look up at someone for long periods.

So much boils down to basic empathy and the Golden Rule. If you were using a wheelchair, what would feel rude or disrespectful or annoying? How would you want people to talk to or interact with you? The truth is any one of us may find ourselves with a disability that necessitates a mobility or medical device at some point in our lives, so the more we normalize accommodations and, you know, basic courtesy and compassion, the better off we'll all be.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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