‘Parents see the world through their children’s eyes. And Ivan Cameron changed his father’s view of everything.’
Writing in the [UK] Independent: columnist Deborah Orr says the life and death of Ivan Cameron profoundly shaped the views of his father, UK Conservative leader David Cameron — and thus, perhaps, the future of a nation. Six-year-old Ivan, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, died this week.
Through Ivan, she says, David Cameron came to understand the challenges faced by people with disabilities, many of whom cope daily with poverty and isolation. Cameron is considered likely to be the UK’s next prime minister.
Young as he was, Ivan had a place in the public life of the nation, at least by proxy. He featured in speeches. His influence could be seen in Conservative Party policy. Cameron admitted that his views, especially his views about the National Health Service, had been altered by the experience of caring for a son with complex needs. Cameron also opted for state-sector schooling for Ivan, and admitted that his son’s special needs prompted him to think hard about the limits of inclusive educational policy.
… The failures of the present government, rather than his own clarity of purpose, are the factors likely to deliver Cameron to power at the next election. But Cameron is the first to acknowledge that his experience of being a father to Ivan has already had a strong influence on the direction in which Cameron wishes to steer Conservatism.
In this way, Ivan’s short life will continue to have a highly significant legacy: He changed his father, and his father has ambitions to change the country. This is, of course, just as it should be.
[The Camerons'] devoted parenting has illuminated the predicament of all those caring for severely disabled children. And the reality is that too many of these families are offered inadequate support.
… respite care is scarce. And families must patiently negotiate a complex bureaucracy to access the facilities that are available. Life is made harder if both parents choose to work or when their financial resources are limited.
Many families find themselves in the latter group. Half of those with disabled children live on the poverty line or below it. More must be done to ease their burden.
… Ivan Cameron’s death is a personal tragedy and a public provocation: we must do more to honor the contribution of carers.
Earlier posts here.