Nationally and globally we are facing two unrelenting crises. For more than 3 months, government officials and the healthcare community have focused attention on a virus that essentially brought the world to a halt. None of us could ever have imagined we would live though something so devastating. Across the globe, in just over 5 months, we have lost more than 409,000 human lives, a disproportionate number affecting racial and ethnic minorities. Scientists and governments have reacted with intense urgency to find a cure, find a treatment, eradicate it completely.
For several centuries another systemic virus has caused generations to suffer death, anguish, fear, economic disparities, education disparities, health disparities, horrifically separated families...where is the urgency to find a cure, a treatment, or better yet eradicate it completely? The answer is, there has been NO plan to face, to defeat, or even acknowledge the pandemic of racism in our country.
Are we as Americans finally ready to face, acknowledge, and defeat racism? Has the death of George Floyd and what has followed as Americans respond in solidarity to the latest act of unwarranted violence against a person of color, been the catalyst for us to finally say enough is enough?
The Dalai Lama believes:
- “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”
- “Think of adversity not as a threat but peace of mind to attain patience. Work for peace, in your heart and in the world.”
- “We have the capacity to ensure the welfare of humanity going forward.”
We as individuals must generate that capacity; we must make it our responsibility to challenge one another, to be the cure. We must challenge organizations to which we belong, including APTA and APTA Pediatrics, as well as colleagues, employers, families we serve, and community leaders, to be part of the cure. We must initiate and engage in difficult conversations about systemic racism, social injustices, economic, education, and health disparities that people of color have confronted for generations.
Focusing on actionable items, goals we can accomplish, and where we can influence change MUST be our priority. Pediatric physical therapists are diverse, independent, and action-oriented agents of change. Action starts with that first bold step. Let’s determine which direction to step toward positive change, toward a pathway that leads to a more equal and just society.
We have the opportunity to forge ahead together, renewed, resilient, and engaged as a profession, a community, a nation, and as one world. I challenge every pediatric physical therapist to imagine the possibilities where we can make a difference. Children are not born with hate or intolerance in their hearts. Pediatric therapists must view every encounter with a child and family as an opportunity to be kind, compassionate, and to model equitable interactions. We are given a gift to walk into homes and become a part of children’s and families’ lives, sometimes from day one. Some of us are fortunate enough to follow them until they are young adults. Whether we see them one time or 1000 times, we can have an impact to generate capacity to ensure social justice going forward. We have consistent opportunities to make a difference, and to help shape a world in which ALL children thrive and flourish. APTA President Dr Sharon Dunn has consistently emphasized “We are better together.” Mr. Rodgers knew the ultimate key to moving forward together: “The first way is to BE KIND; the second way is to BE KIND; the third way is to BE KIND.”
Let’s move toward a future where all parents are confident that their children can run freely.
Cindy Miles, PT, PhD
Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Pediatric Physical Therapy
President APTA Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy
Message from APTA President Dr Sharon Dunn: “Fixing racism in America is an American problem. We cannot pretend to live our country's values while racism persists, and it is our duty as citizens to address the gap between what we say we stand for and what (and who) we will stand up for. There is nothing healthy about racism. It's a disease of the heart and mind that has infected not just people but customs, systems, and laws. There is no vaccine. We must be the cure.”
Please take a moment to read her letter.
How to support black colleagues (compiled by Emily Spaven, Editor at LinkedIn):