Ingrid – May 22, 2017
As I mentioned in my post on March 21, my roommate, Lindsay, has a “Farfar” (grandfather) at The Danish Home. Since discovering “GiGi” (my nickname for my great-great-great-grandmother, Olivia Rose, who was one of the founders of The Danish Home), I am often in conversation with Lindsay about her Farfar’s digs. Does he like it at The Danish Home? How long has he lived there? What does he like to do there? Lindsay is always more than willing to share how happy her grandfather is at The Danish Home. “Hey!” she suddenly said last week. “Why don’t you come visit him with me some time?”
Given that The Danish Home is celebrating its 125th anniversary with four events this year, I’ve been there a few times since volunteering to be on the planning committee. The idea that I would go there for something other than “business” hadn’t occurred to me. “Sure!” I said, eager to meet Lindsay’s Farfar and see things through his eyes. I also imagined GiGi approving of the vision she must’ve had all those years ago for people at the “The Society for the Danish Old People’s Home,” as The Danish Home was originally named.
“Well, hello there, Linz!,” said Farfar to his favorite granddaughter when she greeted him in the living room of The Danish Home. “Who’s your friend there?” Farfar’s bright blue eyes lit up when she introduced me, adding proudly that my GiGi was a founder of The Danish Home. “Well, now that is something!” We sat in reflection for a few moments, when Farfar said, “Ah, but did you know that LEGO is coming out with a figure in a wheelchair?” I blinked, as Farfar softly tapped the wheels of his own chair.
“I did not,” I said. “Yes, it’s a boy who uses a wheelchair and has an assistance dog,” he said. “You know LEGO was founded by a Dane, right?” That, I did know (Ole Kirk Christiansen was his name). In fact, LEGO had recently been named the most powerful brand in the world.
In my mind, the sepia haze of GiGi and the past gave way to the bright, bold colors of the countless LEGO figures across the world (I always think of the past in sepia). I pulled out my iPhone – a new 7Plus! – and Googled “LEGO wheelchair.” I clicked a link and read about a new “Fun in the Park: City People Pack” set coming out next month, including the figure Fafar spoke of.
“LEGO has just rocked our brick-built world and made 150 million disabled kids, their mums, dads, pet dogs, and hamsters very, very happy,” I read aloud. Farfar snickered. “Hamsters?” he said. I read further that there was a petition signed by 20,000 people that called for LEGO to manufacture a disabled figure and that the campaign would help generations of kids grow up with a more positive attitude about human difference.
Knowing the details of the next 125th anniversary event, Tivoli Gardens and Casino Night on June 24, I thought of the games and LEGO Tent that will be part of the fun for kids (adults, too!). I made a mental note that we need to be sure the new City set is there, too! You never know who’s going to be affected by something so encouraging.
In GiGi’s day, people with disabilities were rejected and segregated, but knowing her care for the elderly and concern for those less able, I’m certain she’d be in favor and support of LEGO’s latest creation!