Scaling the Mountain of Regard

by Michele Zink Harris

In May 2013, I travelled to China to take part in ICC’s 20th anniversary celebrations. It was my first trip back since my first visit three short years ago as part of a short-term team to the Hengyang Project. 

As a physical therapist, I was so encouraged during that 2010 trip with the level of care for the children that I observed from the Chinese nationals who had been trained and mentored by our foreign volunteers. I personally believe care is the first level of regard that we reach as human beings. 

As I returned this year and toured the projects again, I saw many of the same faces. But this time I witnessed an expanded level of regard. I saw pride as Chinese therapy aides ran therapy groups with enthusiasm and joy, as well as concern and attention to detail. At one point a proud caregiver asked me to come see a boy who had just recently begun to walk. As a mother, her excitement reminded me of how I feel when my three sons accomplish something. 

We must all scale the “Mountain of Regard.” At the bottom is where society sees the individual with a disability as a burden, while at the top every individual is seen as a unique and powerful piece of God’s image. It is at the top where we can put aside our own fears of fragility, vulnerability and finiteness while embracing the extraordinary strength, resilience, and blessing that comes from those living out their lives with an intellectual or physical disability. 

We can all agree the “Mountain of Regard” is tall and we have much left to climb. But I am so encouraged to see the progress we have made in such a short period of time and I look forward to the day when we are all at the top. 

Michele Harris is a physical therapist from Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband and three sons. She is a published author of children’s books and has become a passionate advocate for ICC in the USA.