This week, I participated in a conference held by the National Council on Independent Living. Here, I attended workshops related to different issues such as violence among those with disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).
I also participated in my first protest march to the Capitol. I learned a few catchy and significant chants,
"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"
Allie and I on our march towards Capitol Hill. Sweet!
My roommates, Allie, Bonnie, and Me at the protest. The coolest ever!
"We're here, we're loud, we're disabled and proud."
Afterwards, we participated in lobbying by going to different Senate offices and talking about the importance of the ratification of the CRPD, which is a international treaty that pushes for equality of rights for those with disabilities. Often times, countries-- especially developing ones-- don't allow people with disabilities to obtain legal rights to vote, determine their own medical treatment, nor do they provide accessible buses, taxis, buildings, etc. People with disabilities including vets and ex-pats that are abroad experience more challenges because they lack access basic human rights. Every single person has a right to get into a post office, grocery store, swimming pool, independently and with ease. Unfortunately, not every country has something like the ADA to protect and care for people with disabilities. We are overlooked... and there is definitely something wrong there. Back in 2008, the U.S. signed the convention, but has yet to ratify it. Therefore, we are pushing for Congress to ratify the convention (hopefully for this session) to officially commit to equality for persons with disabilities and set the example for other countries. Why shouldn't we? It is modeled after the ADA, it doesn't cost anything more, and it builds up the morale of our citizens
because they know they are heard.
This whole conference was been an amazing experience. Not only am I proud to be disabled, but I am also proud to be part of such a strong and purpose-oriented community. I'm learning so much about disability-related issues I never even thought of, how to address them, and how to self-advocate. I'm so fascinated by the relevance it has to public health. There are many issues to address, but little by little, we can conquer them all as a team. We can and must never give up on what we believe in and that which
we are passionate about.
On a personal note, I'm enjoying my time here with wonderful roommates and friends from the program. I'm learning that friends are very necessary for our well-being. They provide us with company, comfort, laughter, and support (at least the really good ones). I'm getting to know so many amazing, strong, and honest people. Whether it be shopping, hanging out, visiting museums, or having dinner, I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my new friends. It has also been wonderful to be able to express myself and be accepted by others for who I am. It's so very important to be honest with others and appreciate ourselves for who we are. Be as kind and patient as possible because there are no good consequences that come from constantly putting others down and criticizing them. We've got to learn to accept other people and respect our differences, and that comes by first loving them. Strive to maintain a good relationship and don't let the little things get to you. Instead, make light of it and enjoy the funny quirks people have. We are all different, and we are all equal, so make the most of friendship.
Shawn, Greg, Courtney, Don, Carly, Cory, Rodney and Me at Clyde's celebrating birthdays