Embracing people with intellectual disabilities is good for you! It’s like a cold shower of enlightenment. Because many of your complaints may fade against the fortitude and resilience of people who do not have life as easy as you. So, it’s not only a moral imperative but also a transformative journey that can profoundly enrich your outlook on life in general.

People with intellectual disabilities have the power to make you aware of unique perspectives, talents, and experiences that are extraordinarily enabling, giving you greater inspiration and motivation. Personal growth, enhanced empathy, and ultimately the creation of a more vibrant and interconnected community is all possible when you learn to see the world from a different perspective.

So, if you are lucky enough to meet an intellectually disabled person, you will find a whole range of benefits await you.

  • Finding new empathy and understanding
    When you interact with individuals with intellectual disabilities, you will foster a deeper understanding of the human experience. Empathy blossoms through shared experiences and relationships, helping you to develop a heightened sense of compassion, patience, and tolerance. As you grow greater appreciation for the challenges faced by the intellectually disabled person, so too will your own determination and resilience grow, and you will meet challenges with more confidence.
  • How a culture of inclusion can lead to powerful results
    Embracing people with intellectual disabilities begins with fostering a culture of inclusion. This involves creating environments – be it in schools, workplaces, or communities – where individuals with intellectual disabilities feel valued, respected, and accepted – and therefore able to engage openly with you, presenting fresh points of view and their personal survival strategies. By breaking down barriers we encourage unique abilities and perspectives to flourish, and the confidence to communicate these.

Learning and change

The power for change through the discovery of unique abilities
People with intellectual disabilities may possess a diverse range of hidden talents and abilities. Interacting with individuals with these attributes will allow us to discover their unique strengths and enhance these strengths by ensuring a secure and nurturing environment. Whether it be artistic talents, exceptional memory, or a gift for connecting with others on an emotional level – recognising, encouraging, and celebrating these abilities adds richness to our own lives, and diversity to the human tapestry.

You can learn about resilience – yes, you can.
There’s plenty of evidence that individuals with intellectual disabilities often demonstrate remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. Embracing and learning from their experiences can inspire others to face challenges in a similar spirit. Witnessing the determination and strength of individuals with intellectual disabilities has immense power to encourage a mindset shift within yourself, kindling a renewed sense of perseverance truly beneficial to all.

Personal growth

Achieving greater personal growth through interaction
When engaging positively with people with intellectual disabilities, you are in essence learning to navigate the complexities of communication, understanding, and support. In this way, you develop greater patience, adaptability, and sense of self-awareness. This personal growth can extend beyond individual relationships to positively impact people around you and your community at large.

Simply building good friendships
If you take the time to build an authentic and lasting friendship with a person with an intellectual disability, you will yourself able to look past stereotypes and preconceptions, focusing on shared interests, common values, and the simple joy of companionship. These friendships, based on mutual respect and understanding, contribute to a more supportive and interconnected social fabric. These are friendships that teach and guide, and often bring unexpected moments of surprise and joy.

The value for society as a whole
By actively embracing individuals with intellectual disabilities, we contribute to the creation of a more inclusive society, valuing and respecting the diversity of all people, therefore providing equal opportunities, and breaking down systemic barriers. This not only benefits individuals with intellectual disabilities, but also strengthens the social fabric, fostering a sense of unity and shared responsibility, and providing an empathic and intelligent way to enrich our society.

The story of Sunfield Home

Chris and Lynne Bennett, parents of a young girl with Down Syndrome, pursued their dream of establishing a home for their daughter and other intellectually disabled young adults in the Western Cape. Together with other parents, they founded the Sunfield Home in Wellington, providing a loving and nurturing environment for over 100 residents and day-care adult individuals.

Everyone is screened to evaluate their strengths and allocate activities according to their abilities. A protective workshop has been established where contract work is undertaken, as well as arts and crafts activities. An employment scheme has also been developed and as a result permanent and successful positions have been found within the surrounding wine and cheese industries.