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The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is intending to build strong grassroots participation in 2012 among the 50M Americans or so who have a disability. "Our goal is to really engage people with disabilities and mobilize them to participate in the direction of the country"
,said its CEO, Mark Perrielo. "So that when there are debates (about issues we care about), elected officials in D.C. and the state capitols know what the (disability) community is thinking."
The issues they pursue include health, bullying and access to employment.
Socio-economic status is the most powerful indicator of anyone's prognosis for a healthy, good, long life, despite all the money thrown at 'health promotion', know by medical insiders as 'hippy-dippy for its ineffective, frivolous use of public money (see 'The last well person' by Nortin Hadller MD). So whereas we might not immediately think 'Health' when discussing employment, or bullying, these are definitely important factors in pursuing a healthy life.
And when you think about it action towards maximum participation of the grassroots is a core factor in achieving healthy lives for disabled people. In fact the fourth 'stage' in Joan Tronto's framework of care requires it to be present in a relationship of those receiving and giving care. Without true participation, care is not genuine care.
And what about the participation then by those who might be unable to communicate or are mentally incapable of doing so? In pursuing the first three stages: paying attention to need; taking responsibility for meeting it and doing so competently we will likely get to know that person and recognise the ways in which they are able to take part in a participatory care relationship, where many see no such signs. We will get to know whether anyone else knows this person and supports them.
'Care' is for many disabled people a four-letter word because of its patronising associations with the medical model. But, when looking at the real nature of care, it is also an empowering agent in an environment where patients, ill people and those with disabilities experience an unequal power relationship. I believe Michael Fine has argued similarly.
Health (being 'whole') and care therefore are quite compatible with pursuits for social inclusion and participation in a civil society.