Challenges not barriers
Meet Kuba Doliński. A young Polish man of few words, but big dreams, who knows what he likes: learning new things; singing along with his favourite pop bands; spending time with his friends. According to one of his friends, Adrian Dybel, Kuba has a real knack for encouraging others to test their limits: ‘Kuba likes strong sensations like speed and height. He dreams of going to the biggest and fastest rollercoaster in Poland. I promised him that we go there together. I am very afraid of it but Kuba makes me brave. He is fearless!’
So for Kuba, his Down’s Syndrome is not about limits, but opportunities. Adrian again: ‘Kuba doesn’t see barriers, just challenges – challenges to meet and overcome’. Not surprisingly, such a can-do attitude is a big plus in the group hoping to start a new L’Arche community in his home town of Opole, in the west of Poland. Just by being himself, Kuba helps keep his team on track, confidently leaning into –rather than away from- any obstacles and setbacks.
Simply as a human being
Like many others in his native country, Kuba is benefiting from the ongoing developments in services for men and women with intellectual disabilities, especially during the course of his own 18 years of life. But in Poland as elsewhere, it is still rare for a person with an intellectual disability to play their full part in society. One still meets negative attitudes, as Kuba’s mother, Grażyna Dolińska knows all too well: ‘We are far from completely accepting that people with disabilities are just like anyone else. Kuba is honest, direct – his openness is a quality not often found. From the start, I’ve had this dream that everyone sees him simply as a human being.’ Watch the interview with Kuba and Grażyna here.
Today, 21 March, 2023, is International Down’s Syndrome Day: a day to celebrate what has already been achieved, in terms of services and civic rights for people with this and other disabilities across the world. However, L’Arche believes that for anyone, a full life cannot just be about improving services. It is about each person, whoever they are, proudly playing their full part in their society. In other words, it is about changing the way disability is seen: not as a limit, but an opportunity. Too ambitious a goal? Not for Kuba, as seen through the eyes of his friend Adrian: ‘Kuba shows that there are no limits, except in your head. If you want something- you can reach it.’