Monday, December 21, 2015

Beautiful Struggle

By Allison Donald, MCIL Independent Living Team

Allison Donald
May I borrow a few minutes of your time, I have a few questions that need to be answered?  How does it feel to go into the grocery store and have people stare at you?  How does it feel when you are in a restaurant and the waiter asks the person that you are with what you would like to order? Or, when a complete stranger walks up to you and asks what is wrong with you?  I’ll wait, for so many people with disabilities these occurrences and questions are a part of OUR daily reality.  How do we begin to answer these questions in a manner that makes those who are not disabled comfortable with who we and the way we choose to live our lives? 

I have NO CLUE. There is not a manual that teaches you how to navigate this beautiful struggle that is disability.

All we can do as a community is educate the parents and others letting them know that the dreams you had for that baby boy or girl can still become a reality regardless of their physical limitations. Everyone born after July 26, 1990 or generation ADA has no filter, texting is their first language, and they have access to information and resources that may not have been available to so many of us until we were well into journey with disability; they need know that advocating in their respective communities is essential and is their basic human right. 

I mean, do young people with disabilities really pay attention to curb cuts or automatic doors? Or do they know what it took to gain access?  People will often ignore the first thing you say to them. If you tell them that same thing four more times they may become annoyed with you. However, if you go back with that same message a ninth or tenth time you may grab their attention and they begin to realize how important it is to you.  People may only start listen intently when they understand how it will affect themselves. 

Is it difficult at times? Hell yes!

But if not us, who?  I am of the belief that education effects attitude and your attitude heightens your level of awareness.  Attitude and awareness are our weapons of choice for advocates, parents and people with disabilities as we battle isolation and dependency.  “I am a reflection of the community," said Tupac.  “I am not saying I am going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world."  

I’m trying to find that spark why don’t you join me?

Allison with ADAPT in Salt Lake City