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The Meadows Blog

The Families of the Meadows

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 08, 2018

When an individual arrives for their first day of work at the Meadows, it is an accomplishment resulting from a lifetime of effort. It’s the culmination of years of commitment and dedication. It’s the achievement of a goal that at times seemed unattainable – but is now a reality.

And, in almost every case, it required the loving support of their family.

However, it was not an easy journey. The challenge of raising any child is daunting, but when a disability is factored in, it changes everything.

Through the years, these families learned to have patience, they learned to embrace perseverance, and they learned to adapt.

The willingness to be flexible became necessary the moment a family’s loved one received the diagnosis of an intellectual challenge because, going forward, all of their lives were altered in significant ways.

At the Meadows, each of our families experienced that type of moment in one way or another. It was a point in time that took their breath away. It was a powerful combination of fear, worry, disappointment, shock and even anger.

In some cases, the family had suspected for some time that there could be an issue with their child. Perhaps there were delays or behaviors that gave some indication that something was different.

In other cases, they did not see the diagnosis coming.

However, when they learned their child would have lifelong challenges, there was an adjustment period as their expectations changed. Some quickly accepted their child’s disability while others struggled to understand why it had happened.

But, eventually, each family accepted their particular situation and committed themselves to ensuring that their child had a full and rich life.

It was that desire to see their son or daughter succeed that led them to the Meadows. Without their unrelenting efforts, their child might not have ever been prepared to enter the workforce.

Because I have only known their children as adults, I often wonder what their little boy or girl was like at the age of eight or ten. What particular issues did they face? What were the problems they struggled with as parents? Where did they find the strength to keep fighting for their child’s future?

I must say that working with these families through the years has touched my heart in a way that is difficult to describe. I am also a parent, and now a grandparent, but I never faced the challenges of having a loved one with an intellectual or physical disability.

That means I never feared that I might lose my child as they underwent dangerous surgical procedures to save their life. I never struggled with a sense of loss because my child was not going to be the person I thought they would be. I never endured the looks and whispers when my child was in public because people didn’t understand the person they were seeing. I never had to comfort my child when others bullied and ridiculed them just because of who they were. I never had professionals tell me that my child might not ever walk or talk or go to school or have a job.  

But the families we work with chose to focus on the positive instead of the negative. They discovered that having a child with a disability showed them what really mattered in life. They realized the importance of appreciating each day they had with their son or daughter. They learned to value the simplest moments because they are the most beautiful. Every time their child reached a milestone their hearts soared with joy. And as their child grew up they were surprised by how hard they laughed and how often they cried all because of the unconditional love they experienced.  

The amazing families of the Meadows have always played a vital role in our business, and they always will. We could not be a positive force in the community without them. It is a partnership that we value above all others because it is rooted in the common goal of seeing their child be successfully and safely employed so they can grow as a person and reach their true potential.

That is why we will continue to do everything in our power to justify the trust they place in our organization as they allow their sons and daughters to work under our supervision.



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The Truth

Michael Crawley - Tuesday, December 03, 2019

It is an undeniable fact that human beings have always been willing to pass judgment and jump to conclusions about people who they believe are different from them. Unfortunately, this is particularly true when it comes to individuals with developmental disabilities.

These negative perceptions occur because we allow our emotions to guide our thinking instead of seeking the truth which can require effort and an open mind. Consequently, we are quick to label people with challenges and to categorize them for our own convenience. We fail to understand that no two people are the same and that each individual has their own personality and character. But we are, unfortunately, eager to form an opinion about their life without knowing a thing about them.


Here are five common situations that we are all familiar with. In each case, you encounter a person you think cannot possibly be a productive member of society.

You are shopping at the mall when two individuals walk past you. Suddenly one of them collapses with a seizure. You watch in shock as the convulsions run their course. Certain that the person lives in terror with the knowledge that a seizure could occur at any moment, you feel great sympathy for them. You assume their quality of life is compromised and that because of their epilepsy they cannot accomplish anything of significance.

***

You are eating at a restaurant when a person comes in with another adult. You can’t help but stare as they follow their hostess to their table. The individual has partial paralysis on one side of their body and there is visible scarring that indicates that they have endured multiple surgeries. The person walks with a pronounced limp, and you can see that their arm is immobile. You can’t imagine how they make it through the day living with those kinds of issues.

***

You are waiting to check out at the store. The individual in front of you is trying to communicate with the cashier, but their speech is extremely difficult to understand. The people behind you become impatient as the person struggles to convey their thoughts to the cashier who just wants them to move along and get out of the way. You feel great pity for the individual as you wonder what kind of “affliction” could’ve caused their inability to communicate clearly.

***

You are in line to buy a ticket for a movie when an individual standing with their mother becomes agitated about something. Very quickly the person’s behavior escalates and they begin to yell as they lose control of their emotions. Their mother tries to help them calm down, but she is not successful in getting the person to relax. You and others watch with silent disapproval as you harshly judge her lack of parenting skills for allowing this to happen in public.

***

You are waiting for an elevator. The doors open and a person carefully steps out pushing a walker. Their balance is precarious and their legs seem stiff and rigid. It is obvious that they would not be able to walk without the assistive device. You suspect their life is limited in countless ways because of their lack of mobility, and you can’t help thinking it would be better for them to stop trying to walk altogether and to just use a wheelchair.

What do these five people have in common?...... Yes, they each have a disability. Yes, it affects certain areas of their lives, and yes, their diagnosis is often used to unfairly define them. But what might surprise you is one other thing that they have in common. Something positive. Something meaningful. Something that deserves to be acknowledged.

All of these individuals are successfully employed at the Meadows.

Along with almost forty other men and women with intellectual challenges, these five individuals work each day at a variety of jobs that not only provide them with a hard-earned paycheck but also build self-esteem and self-confidence. They learn vocational skills, but, even more importantly, they are given every opportunity to reach their personal potential.

But when these same individuals go out in public, people rush to judge them based on nothing more than appearances. That kind of narrow-mindedness is unfair and unjust.

Obviously, there is an important lesson that must be learned.

When we encounter a person with an intellectual, physical or emotional challenge, we should treat them just like we would anyone else. They deserve to be understood and accepted for who they are as a person. They deserve to be treated with dignity. They deserve to be respected.

The men and women we proudly employ are perfect examples of what people with developmental disabilities can achieve in a positive work setting that offers support and encouragement.

The truth is simple. Every person, regardless of what their challenges happen to be, has the right to live their best life.

That is what our employees do every day.


 
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Why The Meadows Matters

Michael Crawley - Monday, November 11, 2019
 
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It Is Not Too Late!

Michael Crawley - Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Meadows annual Walk-A-Thon, held on Saturday, October 12th, was a tremendous success, and we want to thank everyone who participated.  
Read More


Why We Are Not Hiring

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 25, 2018

People frequently contact the Meadows to see if we are currently hiring individuals with intellectual challenges. Unfortunately, as much as we wish we could, the answer is NO. 
Read More


The Men and Women of the Meadows

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 18, 2018

The mission of our organization is to provide employment and vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities as well as other intellectual and physical challenges. 
Read More


Physical Challenges

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 11, 2018

For those of you who are familiar with the Meadows, you know that on this blog we focus primarily on intellectual challenges. That is because each of the men and women we employ has an IQ of 70 or less, which is the state’s criteria of determining a developmental disability. 
Read More


Public Perceptions

Michael Crawley - Monday, February 05, 2018

As people drive past our building each day it is impossible to get a true sense of what is going on inside our 42,000 sq. ft. facility. That leaves the general public with a natural curiosity about what kind of organization we are and exactly what it is we do. 
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Every Life Matters

Michael Crawley - Sunday, January 28, 2018

Each one of us believes that our life is important. But, unfortunately, our fixation with our own significance can sometimes lead us to presume that other lives don’t matter as much as ours. We often fall into the trap of believing that we are superior and, therefore, by default, others are inferior. 
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More Than A Job

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 22, 2018

Our jobs play an important role in each of our lives. In many ways, they help to define us. For some, it means having the ability to provide for their families. For others, it is a lifelong commitment to a meaningful career. But no matter what the circumstances, our jobs occupy a significant portion of our time. 
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A Friend Is A Friend

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 15, 2018

Friendships are some of the most important relationships we have in life. They add a richness and warmness to our existence. They provide comfort and make us feel connected. They allow us to be understood and accepted for who we are. They provide us with people we can count on during difficult times. And, just as importantly, friendship gives us someone to share our happiest moments with. 
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The Meadows
Center for Opportunity

1000 South Kelly
Edmond, Oklahoma
73003-6081

phone: 405.348.4470
fax: 405.340.5395