January 2020 Newsletter

Jan 1, 2020 | Newsletter | 0 comments

Back in November, 2019, I had the pleasure of doing a live YouTube Q&A with the Herrin twins, Kendra and Maliyah, that you can watch by clicking on the link. And then in December they and I were interviewed for an article for The Deseret News, a newspaper in Salt Lake City, Utah on inclusion.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the twins, having seen their YouTube channel or from a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show that aired several years ago. They were conjoined at their abdomens, sharing a pelvis, kidney, and liver, and each controlling one leg. When they were four years old, they were separated. It took a small army of surgeons and support staff to successfully do the operation and the surgery catapulted them into the public eye.

They are 17 years old now and know first-hand how insensitive people can be. Sometimes people take pictures of them only because the twins look similar, but each has one leg—Kendra has a right leg and Maliyah a left leg.

I was interested in the advice they would give to encourage inclusion. Kendra says, don’t stare at people, don’t be afraid to speak with them and simply ask what happened. Maliyah adds, “be nice.”
Many of the parents I have interviewed share Kendra and Maliyah’s views: Asking questions is better than staring, or equally bad, ignoring. It should be done nicely and with genuine interest. Most parents tell me that young children are the best at this. They come right up to them and ask why their child looks the way he or she does. They do so without judgment or preconceived conceptions. They rarely offend and their questions are welcomed by the parents.

It has been my experience that disability is often left out in conversations about inclusion and diversity. The best time to teach empathy is between the 3rd and 5th grade, and this coming year, I am happy to announce, Orange Socks will be teaming with various groups to teach kindness and inclusion in the schools. It’s going to be fun. Let me know if you would like Orange Socks to come to your school.

Happy New Year from Orange Socks!

Gerald Nebeker, Ph.D. Orange Socks President 

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