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How I'd Rewrite 'Welcome to Holland' as Someone With a Disability

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I am not often asked to describe my experiences living as a person with cerebral palsy. Whether that’s due to pity, fear, or the ever-changing wind of political correctness, it’s hard to say. While I don’t feel it is my obligation to educate others because I have a disability, I do try to be upfront about my wants, needs and struggles. Though I know what I say may not cause a tsunami of realization, understanding and change, I am happy knowing I caused a ripple.

Describing what it’s like living with a disability is difficult, particularly because no person — disabled or not — has the same experiences. However, I found a source for inspiration. “Welcome to Holland” is an essay that holds a special place in my heart. Written by the mother of a child with a disability, it compares having a child with a
disability to unexpectedly ending up in Holland. I love this essay, but I have often wondered how it would sound from the perspective of someone who has a disability.  I imagine it might go something like this…

Welcome to Disneyland

When you are a kid, you always hear about Disney World. You see it in commercials and movies. You hear about it on the radio or from a friend at school whose entire family made the trek. You watch all the commercials, listen to all of the “You’ve won! What are you going to do now?” plugs and hang onto your friend’s every word as they reveal the wonders of Disney World.Then one day, your parents say, “We have a surprise for you!” You think to yourself, “Could this be it? Are we finally going?” You wait with bated breath.

“We won tickets to Disneyland!”

“Wait… what?” you think. “But I wanted to go to Disney World. That’s where everyone else is going!” But your parents won tickets to Disneyland, so that’s where you must go.

The important thing is, your dreams of Disney World aren’t dashed forever, they are just taking a detour.

Disneyland has different maps, different rides, and different attractions, but some of it is the same as what you have dreamed about. There are princesses, sing-alongs, and a castle. It even has Space Mountain, the ride you couldn’t wait to experience at Disney World.

It’s a different place. It’s smaller than Disney World, its expanse measured in acres rather than miles. However, once you’re there a while, you realize this place has a magic of its own. This is where it all started. Walt Disney once walked these smaller, but well-loved pathways. By starting small with Disneyland, he created the blueprint for an even bigger dream: Disney World.

As time goes on, you’ll continue to hear about Disney World, but you’ll have the tales of Disneyland to share in return. Someday you’ll get to experience Disney World too. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to and getting to Disney World is still on the forefront. You just need to make a blueprint to get there. So, gather your resources, work hard, be patient, and most importantly, don’t give up on your dreams.

Getty image by Noppasin Wongchum.

Originally published: July 17, 2018
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