Towards an inclusive society for every child | Dave Ensberg | TEDxVenlo

Towards an inclusive society for every child | Dave Ensberg | TEDxVenlo


Translator: Rhonda Jacobs
Reviewer: Denise RQ Good afternoon. It’s important for the future
of our society to make the society
more inclusive for every child. You can all here
make a huge difference doing that. Today I would like to share
my life story with you and inspire you to do so. Over 31 years ago, my birth
was a very complicated one. My mother got permanently
disabled afterwards. She couldn’t walk anymore. She had lots of pains,
and through the years she became more and more
dependent on a wheelchair. She also lost her job
as a high school teacher. Being dependent and having
to ask people to help with stupid little things, she said, “is the most frustrating
thing about my life.” But my mother was more
than just another client, a patient, or some disabled person
from our society, she had many gifts and talents too. Through the years, she came
to accept her disabilities, and she came in touch
with her own talents. With the help of others and the help of the local activity center
for disabled persons, she re-found her own gifts and talents. She started visiting museums, she started painting, she even wrote her own life story. The cover of the book is shown here. She also painted pictures, pictures like this one, from Suriname,
where she was born. Through the years, she found out
that she had so many gifts and talents. She would like to show the world how beautiful people with disabilities
can be as well. And although she died at the age of 50, after effects of her decline
in physical condition, she died knowing
that she had shown the world how beautiful and gifted
people with disabilities can be. At the same time, I was 16 years old. After my mother’s death, I was almost
forced to live in a shelter for kids with special educational needs,
special needs and behavioral problems. But one day, there was Koos. Koos knew me through my mother. Koos worked at the local activity center and he owned, together with his wife,
a very large house in Leiden. He offered me a room that I could rent. When I was 16, I rented that room,
I continued my high school, and I combined it
with two jobs on the side. That first year of my mom’s death
and living on my own I felt depressed. I was terribly lonely,
grieving my mother’s death. And one day at school,
a high school teacher even said to me, “Dave, when I look at you, I got sick. Your negative attitudes
makes me want to throw up.” I was devastated. I was shocked, and I decided
to get some help, help from a psychologist, but also accept the help of Koos. Living with Koos and the others
in the big house really made a difference to me. One day, we went out canoeing. It was my first and also my last time. (Laughter) I was quite terrible at it. I even fell in the water through the day. But that day, relaxing and playing
with Koos and the others, that day was one of the most
beautiful days of my life. One of the most beautiful days of my life. And through the years, I am so grateful for the help of Koos and the others. At that time, I got my life back on track. I continued my high school. I started studying at university. I studied public administration. And I kept combining it
with two jobs on the side, and as well with voluntary work. When I was 19, I moved
to my own apartment in The Hague. There, I also started doing voluntary work
with youngsters, with teenagers between 10 and 14 years old. Every Friday night,
I went out with these guys to guide them at sport activities
and simply by playing with them, paying attention to them, telling them that it’s very good
to perform well at school. One day, we went to a theme park
with all these kids, – you can see a picture here –
and it was a great day, a wonderful day for all of us. Afterwards, I graduated
from the university, and I started working as a consultant
at a big consulting firm. A couple of years later,
I started working in the educational sector,
as well; here, in Venlo. Nowadays, only 15 years after my mom died,
I’m chairman of a board, a school board for seven schools
for kids with special educational needs. I’m so grateful for being here
as a chairman of this board, for helping kids who are like my mom. But I’m also worried. A lot of our kids
cope with behavioral problems, problems like ADHD,
autism, ODD, and so forth. I’m so worried because the way
we, as adults, deal with these kids. As soon as they are
a little bit different than most of us, we send them to special schools, and later on we send them to– or we friendly guide them
to over-subsidized jobs, or we put them away
in daytime activity centers. And I don’t think it’s the right way
to treat these kids. As well, when we look at the numbers,
I’m also quite worried. One out of every 20 kids
has a mental disorder. Almost 50% of them
have a behavioral problem. 50%. And how do we treat these kids,
like kids with ADHD? We treat them by giving them
more drugs and medicines than is good for them. We as a society,
as well as you here in this room, we have a choice. Do we keep giving these kids
more drugs, like Ritalin? The use of Ritalin to help ADHD
and as an antidepressant drug has increased. In the last ten years, the use
of this drug for helping kids has increased; it’s four times higher now. Four times. And we have a choice. Do we continue giving these kids drugs? Or do we choose to be a Koos? Do we choose to be a Koos? And what does that mean? Choosing the Koos option means
being there for your neighborhood kid, being there for a kid in your family,
playing with them, because research shows
that playing with kids has a very positive influence on their personal development. Playing with kids,
simply playing with them, helps them perform better. These kids are healthier,
happier, more social, and they perform better at school. This is a very important thing. Most of the kids
with behavioral problems nowadays, are boys; over 70%. And especially boys need to play a lot. And not just that
they also need male role models, male role models like Koos. Men understand boys better than women. Men are more to the point. They talk more straightforward. And they accept more of boys than women. Boys can do more dangerous things
in surroundings of men, become more creative, and it’s very key
for their personal development. I’m sorry if I offend any women
here in the room, but it’s true. Boys need male role models. Well, of course there are more factors
that cause behavioral problems with kids, boys and girls. There are biological factors and of course
there are psychological factors. But let’s concentrate today on the social factors
that are here in play. Our model society is very difficult
for some kids growing up. A model society asks more of them
in social skills and communicative skills. All these incentives for the brains
are not suitable for every kid. Parents have great difficulty
parenting their kids nowadays. And in every layer of society, it’s shown
that kids have difficulty growing up. Also, our society is more
and more becoming a performance-based society. Every kid feels the pressure
of striving for the highest grades. And we, as a society,
give them lots of pressure; too much pressure. We can make a choice. Let us take three things
into consideration. First, let’s treat these kids
with behavioral problems that are slightly different than most
of us like humans, like persons, not like clients, or a number. These kids are simply kids. It’s a very important lesson I learned
from my late mother. She was disabled, and it was
a very important lesson. Second, let’s end the idea
asking for help is a sign of weakness. I stand here, and I had my fair share
of help through the way. I couldn’t be here doing what I do,
being chairman of a school board, without the help of psychologists
or help from men like Koos. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. And third, we are all parents. We can help modern parents
parenting their kids. Help your neighborhood kid. Pay attention to them. And together, we can make
the African saying come true, “It takes a village to raise a child.” And yes, choosing this option,
choosing the Koos option, taking these three things
into consideration means paying attention
to your neighborhood kid, your nephew, your brother, or sister. And our society will become
more inclusive for every kid. This is me and Koos nowadays. I’m a big fan of Koos. He’s a modern hero to me. He was there when I was in need of help. And I’m asking you to do
the same thing as Koos did. Be there for kids who are disabled
or not disabled; we’re all people
with disabilities actually; nobody’s perfect. But together we can be
more perfect as a whole, more perfect as a society. Use this ball to play with
your neighborhood kid. (Audience exclamations) Use this ball tomorrow. And tomorrow you wake up, and you decide to be a Koos. Thank you. (Applause)

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