I’m proud of all my nieces and nephews when it comes to their accomplishments and where their young lives are headed, but I have to say that I’m positively beaming after what I watched over the weekend as it relates to one specific member of this ragtag group of vagabonds we call the Ruttle family.
My 15-year old nephew Curtis, who lives in Calgary, traveled with his dad Jim to Toronto last November to be interviewed for a CBC documentary series entitled, ‘You Can’t Ask That’. Jim is my brother, or technically my stepbrother if you want to get all technical with things, but I’ve never personally subscribed to all that unnecessary jargon. Family is family, in my view.
The show deals with societal taboos and prejudices in a mature and relatable way by asking groups of people with disabilities those awkward, inappropriate or uncomfortable questions that other people in society are too afraid or shy to ask for fear of offending someone. It's an open and honest discussion on what these people live with every day, and I find their perspective on things to be really admirable.
In Curtis's case, he is vision-impaired and as he explains in the show, he has about 10% of his sight.
Our whole family had been waiting to hear word on when the episode with Curtis was going to air, but when the COVID pandemic hit, it seemed to muddy the waters as far as a broadcast date and caused some delays. Finally, we learned that the show was going to be broadcast on CBC on Friday night, October 9, and if this kind of documentary series sounds like it’s up your alley, I highly recommend checking it out.
That, or if you stream a lot of content like I do, the entire new season of ‘You Can’t Ask That’ has already been uploaded to CBC’s online streaming service called Gem.
If you want to check it out, the episode featuring Curtis is entitled, ‘Growing Up With a Disability’.
The show featured a roundtable of participants with different disabilities who offered their responses to a handful of questions pertaining to what they live with, and among those in the episode alongside Curtis were other young people with conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and osteogenesis imperfecta (or imperfect bone formation).
Of those that I mentioned above, our family is already familiar with spina bifida as my niece Christine, 26, lives with that condition. Try and see if being in a wheelchair stops her from doing anything, though! This young woman is always smiling, always up for good conversation, and she’s helped raise awareness for others with spina bifida.
She’s also a pretty solid Uno player, and I owe her a game sometime when this lousy pandemic lets us get closer with our extended family members. Soon, Chrissy!
I had heard of ‘You Can’t Ask That’ but I’d never taken the opportunity to sit down and check it out. I have to say, I was very impressed with the maturity and the honesty that participants showed when discussing their disabilities and how they live day to day with the rest of us ‘boring’ folks. It stirred up a little bit of emotion when they started talking about some of the teasing they’ve incurred, and it reminds us that we all need to be more understanding of those who are also sharing this planet.
The world already has enough problems that bullying someone with a disability, especially in 2020, should’ve become a thing of the past a long time ago. I suppose that’s just a negative part of life that may not entirely go away and we all have to take the good with the bad.
As if my nephew’s time in front of the camera wasn’t enough, Curtis is also working behind the scenes on some really cool things when it comes to accessibility for visually-impaired youth. Specifically, he's working on a project called Alt Route, a grant-funded initiative that will hopefully one day provide a space for accessible skateboarding.
Curtis isn't even at the age where kids go to get their driver’s license and he's already doing his part to make an impact in the world. I'm a very proud uncle and I commend this young man for what he's working to do for others. Check out his project on YouTube at https://youtu.be/BKSfaAxZMMo
Shows like ‘You Can’t Ask That’ put a spotlight on those who are just trying to get along like the rest of us in this crazy, hectic world. When you think about it, their disabilities and ailments don’t even really matter, or at least they *shouldn’t* matter; they just want to be accepted and treated the same as everyone else.
We should look at life sometimes through their eyes and realize how good the rest of us have it. It makes a person perhaps think twice before complaining about a minor headache or a stiff neck.
They say you can’t ask that, but I’m glad this show does.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.