Today I had the opportunity to listen to a conference call about a new anti-bullying campaign. AbilityPath, Timothy and Anthony Shriver of Special Olympics, and Lauren Potter, star of Glee, are launching Disable Bullying, an effort to educate the public on the damage that bullying can cause, and work to end bullying of all kids, but in particular, kids with special needs. The Shriver brothers and Lauren talked a lot about their campaign to end the “R” word, which is a great campaign. But after looking over AbilityPath’s website, reading their materials on their Disable Bullying page, it seems that, yet again, children with childhood onset mental health conditions like ADHD, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, OCD, and others are not considered to be kids with disabilities, particularly when it comes to protecting them and their rights. With the Waunakee High School dance routine still fresh in our minds, we need to be vigilant to be sure our children – who often have IEPs and social symptoms – are not overlooked.
Glee has been the focus of criticism about a substitute teacher, played by Gwynneth Paltrow, making light of Bipolar Disorder – a glaring example – whether they realized it or not – of how adults (even teachers) can be bullies:
I did ask AbilityPath CEO Sheryl Young and the rest of the panel if children with mental health conditions would be included in this campaign, and I was assured they would be. I’ll keep an eye out on the campaign and AbilityPath’s website to see. You can too – joining AbilityPath is free.
In the meantime, here’s Lauren’s YouTube video, which is well worth sharing.