Parents are blamed, not trained. I hear that a lot from my readers, regardless of their children’s individual or collective challenges.

A new book, “The Sandbox Revolution ... Raising Kids for a Just World,” edited by Lydia Wylie-Kellerman, (2021) is a fresh, strong tool for parents. Fifteen different chapters address such areas as money, anti-racism, honoring the earth, spirituality and the power of story. These are brave, practical conversations. The wisdom is parent to parent, from well-lived experiences.

I asked Lydia, why did she create this resource?

“This book was born out of the questions that ache in me as a parent looking out on the future that children are stepping into. I had a hunger to know I wasn’t asking these questions alone. So, I had the incredible gift of gathering a circle of amazing human beings who were tenderly and courageously living into the messy, beautiful questions. I believe the greatest gift we can give one another and our kids is community.”

Locally, common concerns I hear from parents of children with disabilities are, will my child find a partner to love them? Will my child be able to give their gifts? Will my children love and care for one another after I’m gone?

A recent forum in the Record-Eagle by Aisha Wells of “Mothering Justice,” described the need for paid medical leave to care for their children with disabilities. Some parents, tell me they simply can’t find an accessible park.

I especially liked Chapter 9 “Ableism: Opening Doors and Finding Transformation” by Janice Fialka.

I asked Lydia why it was important to include this chapter.

“Our circles and work must always include the presence, work and wisdom from disability communities. For indeed, each and every one of us has something to teach us about what it means to be human.”

Fialka, a nationally recognized expert on topics related to disabilities, and her husband, Rich Feldman, are parents of Micah, 36, and Emma, 32. The couple call Michigan home. Micah, a person with intellectual disabilities, lives and works in Syracuse, New York as a graduate education teaching assistant supervisor and disability advocate, and Emma lives and works in Boston as a full inclusion school principal.

As a mom and professional, Janice said “there’s plenty of research that shows having a sibling with a disability provides siblings with an increased sense of advocacy and empathy.” She added, “we won’t always be parenting young children. Parents can move from protector to guide. Micah has a well-established, supportive group, called the circle. He’s created his life on his own; consulting his circle when he needs or wants to. We’re in his circle, and it’s not just us.”

I know many young people with disabilities succeeding in their lives. One person on the autism spectrum married last week. Another person, with mental health issues, secured a good job and apartment. Someone else with limited sight, placed in an art competition.

What might happen if each of us were in someone’s circle?

Contact Susan Odgers at She is a 34-year resident of Traverse City and has been using a wheelchair for 45 years. She is a faculty member of Northwestern Michigan College and a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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