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The importance of cross-socialising

Published: 
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

As we celebrate Down Syndrome Day today I am reminded of how important it is to step out of our comfort zones and explore the world around us.

As a homeschooling mum I am often asked about my daughter’s ability to socialise and my answer generally leaves my concerned peers in deep thought. When we attend typical school, there is a tendency to see only one side of the world. We tend to be left in one kind of bubble, totally unaware of what’s out there to explore and discover.

I vividly remember leaving my public primary school where everyone had two parents that worked and we all played after school for a few extra hours while we waited for them to pick us up. Then I entered secondary school where mums were mums full time, they volunteered to help with cooking classes and they managed the hockey team. They were all lined up even before the final bell rang and they usually had a little after-school snack in hand.

This new school opened a whole new world to me and I often credit my alma mater for expanding my dreams. I held on to that vision and I worked hard so that one day I’d be that mum that volunteers and sits at extra-curricular and has the time during the day to coach a team or two.

On the flip side, there are many children who see only one group of children all their lives—be it the less fortunate or the very fortunate.

Do we create opportunities for our children to form relationships with those from other backgrounds, and with different skill sets?

I believe that fostering relationships with others outside our socio-economic backgrounds and level of abilities creates understanding among the various groups.

Each section of society has unique opportunities and challenges and it is only through relationship can we properly understand and appreciate their contribution.

I remember interviewing John Rahael; he generously told his family’s struggles and the ways in which they overcame. In fact, it is because of his story that Jess has her own little enterprise today. She loved his house and said, “He started business at nine, imagine if I start now, I’d be even richer than him.”

I also remember spending the day with mums that were less financially fortunate and watching them stretch a dollar. I think my savings tripled that month. If they could eat well on what they earn then my grocery bill could most certainly afford to be cut in half—and it was.

Having all types of children in my camp, has created in me a love that I never knew existed. Children with special abilities possess an unconditional love and joy like none other.

I encourage us today to grow our circle. Let us not limit our cross-socialising to just race, but let us be purposeful about mixing with those more fortunate financially, those less fortunate financially. And I mean really mixing. If you manage a warehouse then have a member of staff over to your home for Sunday lunch. Heck, just start by eating in the yard with them every day versus just at Christmas dinner.

Get creative and find ways to build relationships with families from every walk of life. It’s the only way we will truly build an inclusive society filled with compassion.

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