BADD 2013: It Starts With Us

It’s Blogging Against Disabilism Day 2013! A day dedicated to speaking out against disability discrimination of any kind, life obstacles of those with disabilities, etc.

I have been absolutely devouring the amazing posts that are flowing through today; there are some great writers with great thoughts and ideas out there in the Blogosphere. I encourage you to check out Dairy of a Goldfish, where all the posts will be listed, or the BADD Facebook Page.

This is my third year participating in the day. Two years ago, I wrote about intelligence and interacting with people with disabilities. Last year, I missed the actual BADD day, but my post about the dance of Cerebral Palsy brought you into my world of living with a disability, if only for a moment.

This year? Well, buckle up. I don’t really know how the idea for this post came to me or how it’s going to work into the theme of this day, but here we go. Knowing that BADD was coming up, I’d been jogging my brain trying to figure out what I wanted to put out in the world as a person with a disability.  My one small voice.

It’s taken me the better part of 24 years to be “okay” with having a disability.   I think some of this is because I tended to live life with blinders on and not even pay attention to it.  I had great friends and family who helped make it a non-factor in my life and, while this was a blessing, it also was a little bit of a curse.  Full disclosure: I hate that cliche, but I couldn’t think of anything else to write.

But then…life hits you. People are often rude or ignorant, situations aren’t ideal, you’re forced to be independent at times when you’d been used to relying on someone by your side. You can no longer wear those blinders, because this is real life. It’s not going to stop while you adjust.

There comes a point in your life when you have to recognize your situation and your limitations.  Being an adult now (arguably anyway-my sisters will tell you I’m still the baby), that point has come hard and fast over the past few years.  Now, trust me. I’m not, in any way, at all, ever, ever, ever (got it?!) saying that you should be defined by your limitations or let them control your life.  Quite the opposite actually. Recognize and understand them so that you can live your life for you and move beyond them, if that is the path you choose.

How does this fit into BADD?! Hold your breath, because some of you might not like what you’re about to read…

If you don’t want to be discriminated against, start by not discriminating against yourself.   

Simple as that, right? No. I’m not naive. I know it’s not that simple, but it’s the initial step on a long journey. Think logically for a second, and this goes for anyone whether you have a physical disability or other obstacle in your life, if you don’t want someone else to judge you, limit you, or assume something about you, why would you do those things to yourself? You tell your best friend that they can do anything they want, but then you tell yourself that you can’t? That doesn’t sound right to me.

I’ve learned something very valuable on my journey, and even more so now being a fitness instructor of a class for people with various limitations, and that is that we as people with disabilities are the role models of how other people with disabilities should be perceived and treated.  Whether we want to be or not.

Want people to believe in you, to give you a chance?

Believe in yourself.

Want people to treat you with respect and dignity?

Respect yourself.

Want people to understand just how strong you are, that you are not to be pitied?

Show your strength, do not pity yourself. 

Want to be heard, to leave something in this world?

Speak up and don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable. Let people in.

IT STARTS WITH US!

Intelligence: it’s not just academic…

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010. For those of you who follow my blog that may not know what this day is, or what disablism is (mainly, well, all of you!):

BADD is a day where those of us who have disabilities or have family members with disabilities come together to blog about our situations and some of the different issues we have faced regarding Disablism. Disablism is really any topic having to do with disability discrimnation, or treating children and adults with disabilities different in a positive or negative matter because of their disability.

Having had Cerebral Palsy since birth, I’ve obviously grown up with situations that weren’t always ideal in regards to my disability. There were some instances when I could not partake in certain activities that my peers were taking part in or when I had to take more time to do certain things that might have come easily to others. However, despite all these difficulties and obstacles, my life up through this very day has been nothing short of amazing. Thanks to so many wonder family, friends, and therapists I have gotten to do so many wonderful things with my life…including attend an amazing university (from which I will be graduating in 15 days. AHHH!!) The education I’ve recieived has greatly impacted so many areas of my life, and has expanded my intelligence.

There is a different kind of intelligence that I’d like to talk about though. Some call it common sense, some call it generousity. Me? I call it LIFE intelligence.

There have been so many times in my life when I’ve come into contact with individual who don’t only think I’m not intelligent, but act unintelligent themselves. This intelligence is simple. It comes in the form of holding a door open for a person with crutches, or hanging back with one of your friends because you know they aren’t quite speedy, while everyone gets to where they want to go at top speed, afraid of missing 5 minutes of life. This intelligence is not telling someone they cannot do something, but showing them a way to do it that they may nto be aware of. It’s telling a friend you are offering up your dance practices for them because you know dance is the one thing they love so much, but will probably never do.

I have been so blessed to meet many people who have developed this intelligence. Unfortunately though, I have also met many people who have not even the slightest idea that this type of intelligence even exists.

Tonight, 2 minutes before BADD 2010 comes to a close, I leave you with a question: Which type of person have you been to those with diabilities you have met?