A sequel to the all-time favorite Finding Nemo, Finding Dory subtly teaches us about the importance of acceptance and inclusion.
Dory, a blue tang fish living in the open ocean has struggled with short-term memory loss her whole life. As a young fish, Dory’s condition led to her separation from her parents. Disney and Pixar send Dory on a devoted search for her mom and dad, who she begins to remember more and more throughout the film.
Along her journey Dory befriends other characters who, like her, are not normal sea creatures. Hank is an octopus with only seven tentacles, Destiny the whale shark is nearsighted and bumps into the sides of her tank, Bailey the beluga whale has a head injury that affects his echolocation, and Becky is a very disheveled and non-verbal looney bird. Even Nemo, who has one fin smaller than the other, plays a role in helping Dory.
All of these characters are presented in a way that shows their differences as something of the norm. While it may seem as though the unique conditions of these creatures would limit their abilities, they each play a crucial role in helping Dory find her parents, all while telling a story of people with special needs and how they are able to succeed and live their best life.
This cast of differently-abled creatures may have to make accommodations because of their conditions, but they bring unique ideas and perspectives to different situations and prove that they are able to succeed among everyone else.
Like Finding Dory, enCourage Kids works hard to promote inclusiveness and make others realize that individuals with disabilities should be embraced and celebrated for their special qualities, rather than looked at for what they can’t do.
“The kids come to our events and you can see the joy on their faces. They are normal children, they just have a medical issue,” shared Casey Knutson, Special Events & Volunteer Coordinator at enCourage Kids.
“They want to be treated normally and they are when they are with enCourage Kids. They are not afraid to be who they are, they are not afraid to say they are sick. They know they are going to be supported.”
At enCourage Kids, we support the inclusion of children facing various medical conditions. The children in our programs have been diagnosed with anything from Sickle Cell Anemia, to Type 1 Diabetes, to Epilepsy, and others in between. We are a non-disease specific organization and we welcome and celebrate the uniqueness of our different enCourage kids. Just like Dory, we want our kids to understand that their conditions make them special.
“Being able to go all of these events with enCourage Kids without feeling limited or unable to do anything makes you feel so comforted by the people around you,” enCourage kid Kolby explained.
“I feel like everyone at enCourage Kids understands what you are going through. When I go to the escapes I feel like I don’t have to worry about what might be going on inside my body and I just enjoy what is going on around me.”
Even though their time with her was short, Dory’s parents played a supportive and comforting role in her life and are excellent models for special needs parents. They give her the tools she needs to succeed by patiently, lovingly and repeatedly guiding her.
“As a parent of a sick kid you are always looking for a way to make them feel normal, a way to make them feel included, a part of a group, and to not be looked at differently when they can’t participate in something,” shared Rainbow, enCourage mom to Kolby. “We have that with enCourage Kids.”
Like our enCourage parents, Dory’s parents only want the best for their child. They do not want her to feel as though there is anything that she can’t do. At the same time, they help her to understand her disability and how to properly explain her condition to those who do not know her.
On her journey there are times when Dory is misunderstood and apologizes for always forgetting, however she begins to realize that her memory loss makes her who she is. If Dory did not have a short-term memory loss condition which led her to losing her way she would have never met her loving friends or grow a fearless nature to allow her to think outside the box and solve problems creatively. While Dory’s memory loss does not define her, it does add to her admirable and lovable personality.
Thanks to our donors and sponsors, 100 enCourage kids and family members were able to see “Finding Dory” at the AMC Theater on 42nd Street through our Escapes program. Each child received a Dory plush toy to take home and cuddle during the movie. Together, enCourage kids, families, and staff learned to always believe in yourself because the sea is full of differences and you have to just keep swimming. Thanks to AMC for helping us Find Dory!