Disabled For a Day
photo by Marissa Lambert
Last week, after a frustrating appointment in a very non accessible office building, I was driven to raise awareness about disability and accessibility. I asked people, via social media, to imagine they were disabled for a day, and share their experience and thoughts to promote empathy, raise awareness, and alleviate the stigma on being disabled.
I personally reached out to friends and family to ask them to participate and get the movement off the ground. I was blown away by the amount of time many of them spent documenting their day, and even more so by their revelations. Having been in showbiz, I reached out to some reporters I had worked with in the past, and was even able to get some airtime on a local news program in New Orleans. You can see the clip on my Facebook Page.
To see my friends and family share their perspectives on being disabled, or caring for someone who is disabled, was humbling and insightful. To see people responding to these posts, sharing their own stories, and getting involved in the conversation has lit a fire within me to pursue a path of advocacy for the disabled and medically complex community. I know that if I can pull together my resources, friends, family, colleagues, and connections, I can make an impact in my community. It may be small to the outside world, but I know it will mean a great deal to a lot of people. Even if my son ends up walking, talking, and living a very typical life, it will still be my mission to make my community more accessible, inclusive, and comfortable for those with disabilities and chronic medical issues.
Here are some quotes that stood out to me from people who have posted in the #DisabledForaDay movement:
I know first hand how consuming chronic illness and disabilities can be. You spend a lot of time in very sterile, clinical environments, filling out paperwork, repeating yourself over and over to every nurse, specialist, and therapist. Your "free time" is usually spent catching up on ordering medical supplies and refilling prescriptions. You become hyper aware of places that are inclusive, and plan your outings based on where you can park, maneuver, and spend quality time with ease. It literally takes over your life. I'm determined to make the world a more inclusive place that considers everyone. I know this sounds like an impossible feat, but I plan on leading by example. I may not change the world, but I know I can change someone's world. I know not everyone cares as much as I do about this, especially if they're not affected by it, but if I put it out there, it will plant seeds in people's minds, and hopefully flourish into awareness, conversation, and action.
You can join me in spreading awareness, and improving the quality of life for everyone in our communities, whether it's by sharing my posts, writing your own, or even going as far as pushing to make local businesses more accessible and inclusive. We can all contribute in our own, unique way.
Thank you in advance for making our world a more empathetic and inclusive place.
Cristina (and Oskie!)