Sacred Worth Books Highlight: We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire, and Eduardo Trejo
Recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month by reading a great book with the kids in your life.
October means a lot of things for a lot of different people. For some, it represents Football Games and Autumn Vibes. For others, it represents ‘spooky season’ and Fall festivals. For the disability community, October holds many significant dates of awareness and celebration. For example, October hosts World Cerebral Palsy Day, World Sight Day, World Mental Health Day, and White Cane Awareness Day. October also includes Invisible Disabilities Week and is the month of awareness for several disability groups. These holidays may seem like trivial facts but for those within the communities they are times that one may center their lived experience and share their story in hopes of a better tomorrow.
A disability holiday that is ever so important this year (in my opinion) is drawing our attention to October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The National Disability Employment Awareness Month held each October is an initiative driven by the US Labor Department to recognize the many different contributions to the workforce and economy by people with disabilities. This time highlights both the success and progress made through the Americans with Disabilities Act while also educating on the many issues that are still present. This year’s theme for NDEAM is “America’s Recovery Powered by Inclusion” highlighting the importance of accessibility as our Nation continues to strive toward recovery following COVID-19.
This year, a call to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month is even more important as the Pandemic unveiled many of the struggles within employment and protections of disabled people. As the constant tension between a healthy economy and a healthy community continued to divide, disabled individuals were left often in the shadows as the most vulnerable both physically and financially. The COVID-19 Pandemic forced us to evaluate the accessibility and protection of all within our community as organization started to make strides toward helping their employees navigate these difficult times. An understanding of the collective needs and protecting our neighbor continued to ring as an echoed chorus. An understanding of our deeply interdependence on each other is a sentiment that has driven the Disability community for decades. Accessibility for all people is rooted in this exact philosophy.
This idea is why the book, We Move Together, by Kelly Fritsch and Anne McGuire has a lot to teach us this month. Fritsch and McGuire unravel the complex understanding over collective dependence and accessibility in a captivating story about a group of children with varying abilities. This children’s book centers the beauty of moving together for all present to be able to be their best selves and valued for their different contributions. Fritsch and McGuire reflected on their experience as parents to children with disabilities and working within the disability justice movement through the creation of this book. From the start of the book, it is clear that a person is powerful not despite their complexities but because of them. It highlights the value in understanding the unique needs and strengths each person carries. The book walks through the journey of collective movement and addresses the barriers one may encounter along the way. It recognizes the complexities that come with accommodations and mirrors the struggles we see in the school system/workforce as disabled people continue to fight for equal opportunities. The book celebrates many aspects of the Disability Movement and Culture for children to be able to appropriately engage with their peers that may be part of this community. It is a wonderful new text that shows inclusion not just through the many characters with disabilities but by also being inclusive of racial, cultural, gender, and sexuality diversity. This inclusivity highlights the ways that disability is present within all communities allowing all to be fully represented within the story.
We Move Together truly captures the beauty of the call to care for our neighbor. This is the central message to not just the disability movement but also to the call of all Christians. Too often, we fail to celebrate the beauty found within our interdependence within community. In failing to see interdependence as something to be valued, we also lose the gospel message intertwined. Throughout the scriptures we are reminded of the call to care for all people. Interdependence and care for other is a theme woven throughout scripture. We first encounter the idea of interdependence at the very start of Creation in Genesis as close relationship was vital. This theme continues throughout the scriptures as communities continued to rely on each other through the Tribes, families, and Exodus journey. The call to not just interdependence but to care for neighbor is further developed in the mission of Christ. One can see this through the stories of the Good Samaritan, healing narratives, and Jesus standing up for the downtrodden. Finally, the Christian call to interdependence is continued in the scripture into the early church as the functions of the multiple parts of the united Body of Christ is continued to be utilized by Paul in the epistles Corinthians and Ephesians. This idea that carries vital importance to the disability community is center within the Christian call, however it is often uncomfortable due to the countercultural aspects within the American Dream.
As we journey forward in continued hopes of the ‘post-Pandemic’ world, may we travel with the many Disability Leaders as we strive toward a world recovered through inclusion. May we use stories such as We Move Together to uncover the value of interdependence within society and our Christian Call. I invite you to enter the conversation with your children through this book. We all have so much to learn about caring for each other and leaning on each other in times such as the past few years. May the reflections of our children guide our hearts as we discern what recovery can truly mean for us. Disability inclusion is important especially in Children’s literature. Starting these conversations young may help our ability to care for ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities better in the future through our Christian witness.
This book is a part of the Sacred Worth Books database, a resource that exists to promote children’s books with diverse main characters and stories so that all kids may see and know that they are created in the image of God. For more about this resource, why it exists, and to access the full book list, go to the Sacred Worth Books database.