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The Advancement of Inclusion: Board Member Eric Yancy

Eric Yancy has served on JMF’s Board of Directors since the establishment of the Foundation in 2008. He is a pediatrician, with a passion for vocal music, community theatre, and serving children of ALL abilities. Read on to discover why Eric believes deeply in the Joseph Maley Foundation’s mission and programs, and why he thinks others should too.

How did you come to find out about the Joseph Maley Foundation?

Joseph Maley was a patient of mine. I was Joseph’s pediatrician for his entire life. After his passing, John and Vivian were determined to keep alive his legacy of inclusion, and valuing all children regardless of limitations. Becoming an original member of the Joseph Maley Foundation Board was an honor.

Why did you join JMF’s Board of Directors?

Our society tends to marginalize many with unique gifts and talents that others may not understand. Children with varying abilities often have no way to channel the special talents they possess, or to be included in mainstream activities such as athletic events or even social ones. To be a part of a foundation whose mission is valuing children of ALL abilities, would allow the inclusion of so many children who may otherwise be overlooked. I simply wanted to lend my support and whatever ideas or talents I may have to such an effort.

What does the mission “serving children of all abilities” mean to you?

Unfortunately, in our world today, certain skill sets seem more valued than others. Frequently the value of individuals is underestimated if they do not possess the popular skillset most visible to others. JMF serves children of all abilities. Imagine a football team with all quarterbacks. There would be no blockers or pass catchers. There would be no defenders. Who is to say then who is the most important? JMF values the unique position of each child, realizing that each of their skills is important and should be valued. There is an ability, and it must be discovered and cultivated.

What do you hope JMF can accomplish in this new decade?

JMF will accomplish an increased awareness of the varying abilities of children. Through its programs of inclusion, children will become aware that they are a valued part of society with the ability to contribute just as any other child with different abilities. JMF will create such an awareness through teaching others to teach the valuable lessons of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion.

What do you want others to know about JMF?

JMF is a working, living, breathing organism. John and Vivian Maley, the co-founders of JMF, are an incredibly dedicated couple determined to move the cause of serving children of ALL abilities forward. Others should know that they can be a part of this dynamic mission and their voices will be immediately heard. If others choose to contribute to its programs in a monetary way, know that there is no better dollar invested than in the advancement of inclusion. It is an incredibly worthy charity.

This is our year of stories – what’s your favorite JMF story?

My favorite JMF story is rather different. Sometimes God has a way of letting you experience your passion. A few years ago, not only did I attend the JMF Run, Walk, Roll, and sing the National Anthem, I actually participated. I ran/walked the 5K distance as I watched those in wheelchairs and specialty strollers pushed and carried to the finish line. I saw the smiles on their faces as they experienced full participation. Shortly after the event I developed a pain in my knee so intense that I couldn’t walk. Unable to complete rounds the nurses at the hospital had to wheel me down to the emergency department. After appropriate treatment a large brace was placed on my leg. Simply getting in and out of the car, showering, merely walking became incredibly challenging. I healed up rather rapidly but in that short time I was able to experience what many children experience every day. It was as though I was BLESSED with a chance to live what I endeavored to support. God gave me my own personal taste of what it is like when the world is built for different skills than those you possess. I am grateful to JMF for giving me that awareness.