Thursday, September 2, 2010

How Do You Feel About Jerry’s Kids?

- By Guest Blogger Cass Irvin -

Most disability activists cringe when Labor Day comes around.

The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon may seem like a benevolent event. But in reality the charity mentality and the MDA's use of the "pity approach" to raise money seriously undermines the disability civil rights movement.

The general public accepts the idea that people with muscular dystrophy--really all people with disabilities--are pitiable victims who want and need nothing more than a big charity to take care of them. Or, better, to cure them.

Disability activist like Mike Ervin challenge MDA's representation. He says millions of viewers come away with the idea that disabled people need pity and charity rather than accessible public transportation and housing, employment opportunities and other civil rights that a democratic society should ensure for all its citizens.

Mike Ervin, a Muscular Dystrophy Association poster child in the 1960s, helped organize Jerry's Orphans, advocates who annually protest the MDA telethon because of the debilitating effect it has on people with disabilities.

Before you decide how you feel about this issue, you might want to look at THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, a half-hour documentary about Mike Ervin and Jerry's Orphans.

To learn more, go to:
and/or watch it on-line at: www.thekidsareallright.orgwatch.html

Bye for now,
Cass Irvin

Author Home Bound, a memoir Temple University Press
Free To download Home Bound, Chapter 1 go to and click on Excerpt

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