Understand ABBF: Ally, not volunteer

Understand ABBF: Ally, not volunteer

At ABBF, we are very clear about the role each of us play. We are each a piece in this larger puzzle. Together, we will make the picture of a more inclusive, more accessible, more empathetic society defined by equal opportunities for Persons with Disability. Each of us play a role in transforming this vision into reality. And that is why you are our ally.

There are many things wrong with the word ‘volunteer’ in our opinion.

We do not have hierarchy. Let me help you, “volunteer” to do something for you. The giving becomes one way, from the able-bodied to the Person with Disability. It becomes all about giving with no space for getting. In every event, we have seen this to just not be true.  Information flows both ways. Experience dawns both ways. Transformation occurs both ways. There is no hierarchy.

You work with us. There is an impression that comes with the ‘volunteer’ tag usually – we tell, you execute, everyone walks away happy. What a bore. That is not how we roll at ABBF. We are looking for people to work with us – innovate with us, strategise with us, build with us. We are looking for people who will be invested with us. And whether you are an outdoorsy person or not, whether you have experience working with the disability sector or not, it could be you. If you are willing to engage, commit, and work towards the shared goal of inclusion and accessibility, you are our ally.

At ABBF, everyone is long-term. The problem with volunteering is that you always feel like you can leave whenever you want to. While we do not force you to come to our events and head into the outdoors, we do hope that experiencing inclusive adventure will lead to a long-term attitudinal change in your personal life. We hope that after even one event, you become more aware and sensitive to the needs of inclusion and accessibility. And this means that even if you cannot come back to events with us, this awareness will influence every aspect of your life. It will inform your conversations, your work, your reactions to the world. In this conscious, committed effort to keep inclusion in mind, you become more than just a volunteer. You are our ally.

At ABBF, we are building a community. The more voices we add to the table, the more energetic, innovative, and spirited the debate becomes and the more change we can bring about. To fuel this transformation, we need synergy, long-term engagement, and the willingness to work on a shared platform. We do not volunteer. We ally.