This month is Disability Pride Month. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 42.5 million Americans with disabilities, and in July, we celebrate all those who live with disability and take pride in their strength and determination.
As communications coordinator of IDignity, I frequently interact with clients. In these interactions, I have the honor to see the positivity of so many individuals who are down on their luck but continue to move forward, including those who live with a disability, and come to IDignity for services. I see the positivity and strength of people like Karelyn who, with underlying medical conditions, was unable to work during COVID, or Glen who is blind in one eye, or Juliano who, after suffering two strokes and being told he would never walk again, relies heavily on a wheelchair. Each one of these individuals has had their lives changed because of their disability, but each can feel proud of the steps they have taken to better their life by utilizing IDignity’s services. When I speak with clients I try to remind them of one important thing – that they took the step to come to us. That they are the ones who are working to change their life, and they should take pride in that. Similarly, in having a disability, it is important we push aside the fear and shame we may have learned over our lives, and take pride in the steps we have taken. No one said it better than Laura Hershey, in a passage from her poem “You Get Proud By Practicing.”
who made you ashamed,
but you are the one
who can make you proud.”
No matter if a disability is invisible or easily spotted, it does not change our common ground – we are all human. So, let’s treat each other as such.
If you look at the picture of me, Olivia, you likely would think that I am a healthy and able-bodied Gen-Zer. You would be correct. I AM healthy. But I am also disabled. I have narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder that causes extreme bouts of fatigue and even hallucinations. This disability alters my life greatly. I have felt shame from it, this disability that is completely out of my control. But I have learned to live with it, I have learned to live with it with PRIDE. I am lucky in this aspect because while July is Disability Pride Month, it does not mean every person with a disability has found their disability pride. But we can help them get there. So I ask, as a disabled individual, as an IDignity team member, as a HUMAN, that this month we remember to treat everyone with the respect and compassion with which we wish to be treated.
Oh, and Happy Disability Pride Month!
Here are some awesome articles that give more background on Disability Pride Month: