On Tuesday, April 4,the Cushing community welcomed Mr. John Sharon, Social Studies Department Chair at Fenn School and Diversity Practitioner, as the guest speaker for our third and final event in this year’s Diversity Forum Series. Born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a rare condition that limits muscle and bone growth in the extremities, Mr. Sharon shared his personal story to help us identify and understand our own assumptions and biases about ability.
“I started this life as I can only describe as being 100% aware that I was different from everyone else,” said Mr. Sharon. “On the other hand, I also knew I was 100% the same. My family wouldn’t let me dwell on being different.” But, he stressed, “In reality, that’s true for all of us. All of us are 100% the same and 100% different.”
He went on to describe his experiences growing up and in school, the beginnings of his activism, the importance of words and symbols, and several observations spark deeper thinking. “Disability makes people itchy,” he noted. But it’s important to have these conversations to gain a better understanding of not just inclusion, but belonging. “Disability is what makes us more fully human. It’s a gift. It shows us that we as human beings need each other.”
Said Mr. Sharon in his closing: “Be willing to engage with people who are different from yourselves. Your life will be better for it.”
Following his talk, students and faculty met in small groups to explore further the ideas raised through his story.
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Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.