Creating a Differently Abled Community: Getting Involved
Since the pandemic, there has been a lot of focus on reconnecting with various types of communities. This is especially important to those who find themselves in communities centered around finding a space for marginalized people. We’ve found, as a part of the differently abled community, that there is a strong connection between individuals and there are a lot of ways to become involved in such a community. Whether you're disabled yourself, or just an ally, there are ways for you to make a difference.
Wheelchair-centric communities are a great place to find support when you’re going through the same experiences as others in your community. Some people may have a new spinal cord injury, while other individuals have had their chair from birth or were injured during an accident and became paralyzed. Chances are there will be enough similarities between each individual's experience that friendships thrive regardless of differences.
You may find that it takes a while to locate the right wheelchair community for you. Don't give up! Keep trying different support groups until you do get lucky enough to come across one which fits your personality and interests perfectly - there are many out there waiting just in case someone like yourself might need their services or advice on how they can enjoy life through these methods of transportation.
Volunteering as a differently abled person
Volunteering can be a great way to give back and help others while improving your community. There are many opportunities out there for people who want the chance at some volunteer work, regardless of if you identify as a differently abled person or not. In many cases volunteering doesn't just benefit those without disabilities--it also gives anyone an opportunity to make their voices heard on issues that concern the community the most deeply. These communities and volunteer options can greatly impact the ability for leaders to better understand why certain marginalized members of society feel overlooked.
If you enjoy working with children, try volunteering at local after school programs or if you’re able, the Big Brothers/ Sisters organization in order for them to be able to connect more effectively towards their goals! If you love animals, and with so many animal shelters across America looking to help provide caretaking services such as walking dogs, cleaning cages, and administrative work - why not choose one close by to volunteer at?
Being a good ally
Educate yourself! The differently abled community has so much to offer. You can learn about different models of disability, understand what ableism is and how to detect it in the workplace or social environment for example - there are tons of resources from podcasts that talk about all things accessibility related (and even books) but also documentaries if you're looking for something more formalized! Allyship is a process and journey. You will make mistakes, but know that it's better to be an imperfect ally than nothing at all- understanding this helps us feel more confident in our ability as good allies!
Listen to each person's story and understand that not everyone has the same views or preferences. For example, some might identify themselves first as a disability while others prefer Person First language when talking about their experiences with disabilities. Those without disabilities need to speak up when ableism is present so that it can be brought to an end! It may seem like little things, but these moments add up and eventually create a culture where people with disabilities aren't valued or respected — which turns into what they really don’t want: isolation.
We have certainly found that contributing to the larger differently abled community can have a real impact on the lives of those involved. We’ve dedicated our business toward creating a positive impact for 10,000 lives and nothing brings more joy to our lives than hearing those success stories and engaging with the differently abled community. We are honored to be a part of this group and continue to find ways to enhance the lives of those we serve.