GDI Hub celebrate IDPD: "My Blue Brick Journey"
International Day of Persons With Disabilities
Today on the 3rd December is "International Day of Persons With Disabilities" (IDPD). The annual day, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, serves to promote the rights of disabled people in all areas of life and well-being and increase global awareness about the key issues facing disabled people around the world.The 2021 theme is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world".
To mark this important date GDI Hub are celebrating by amplifying the voices of disabled people through a series of blogs.
Every person brings a unique perspective, an expert in their own experience. Each story, each voice, is an opportunity to change the narrative on disability, contributing to a collective call to action to make disability rights a reality.
Happy #IDPD 2021
My Blue Brick Journey
I feel proud to be a part of this community and to finally feel that together we are stronger in numbers, that we have a voice that ensures #NobodyIsLeftOut.
I am a 43-year-old mother of four, and I work a senior manager for NHS England, having spent 22 years working as a nurse.
In 2019 I had a sports massage which changed my life for ever. The massage therapist applied too much pressure onto my back and broke my lower spine, leaving me paralysed and needing emergency surgery .
I found myself bed-bound and unable to walk, I had two choices , find the inner strength and fight to ensure I lived life to its full potential or give up and accept my fate. There was only one option, and that was learn to walk again.
2 years on I'm now an ambulatory wheelchair user. Going against all odds, is something we're all capable of doing and for me I learnt this the morning I was told “l was never going to walk again”.
Society has taught us to look at life and the experiences we’ve had, more through the lens of negativity, doubt, and regret than positivity and confidence. Without a conscious effort to shift your thinking, it can become your default view of the world. The more challenges you encounter, the more you zoom in on the negative.
However, we always have a choice in how we interpret our experiences. We can choose to look back on past challenges through the narrow lens of defeat and resentment, or we can choose to open our hearts and take a deeper, more inquisitive approach by asking ourselves, “What is the gift or the lesson of this experience?
My blue brick journey (blue_brick_disability on Instagram: life using assistive technology) has opened my eyes and those that have come along with me on this journey. I feel humbled for the amazing things I have in my life and recognise how I can choose to perceive life differently so that I may benefit from this learning and inspire those around me. It was via this platform that I discovered the amazing work of GDI Hub and #WeThe15. I feel proud to be a part of this community and to finally feel that together we are stronger in numbers, that we have a voice that ensures #NobodyIsLeftOut. To build a future that eradicates discrimination and stigma that is centred around all disabilities, is suddenly not a dream but with this global movement is an achievable reality. A world where we are all equal and have access to basic human rights like education, access to equal job opportunities and being able to go into a restaurant and access a restroom or sit in accessible seats at a venue like the cinema.
People living with disabilities face this discrimination every time we leave our home, for me this may be being judged or unable to access places due to being in a wheelchair. It saddens me that people make judgement regarding my wheelchair, this is assistive technology to aid me to get from A-B, like using a car on long journeys. We don’t judge or ask questions on why people are using cars, so why is it socially acceptable to do this when we see someone in a wheelchair?
I am extremely passionate about raising the awareness and breaking the taboo on this stigma and often ask people what their views are on glasses as a compression. Because like a wheelchair that helps people travel around, glasses help people see so that they too can travel. Glasses and wheelchairs are both assistive technology but with one difference. Wearing glasses is seen as a fashion accessory, trendy and cool unlike a wheelchair that is seen as something that is looked at as a tragic event and with pity. This is why #WeThe15 is so powerful and I hope to continue to educate people via Instagram.
I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going since my spinal cord injury and I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight.
And as I push on, I still do not know where I am going. But the miracle is in the unfolding of my wings. I may not know where my journey is going, but I know that so long as I spread my wings, the winds will carry me.
Views expressed in this blog, and references used, belong to the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Global Disability Innovation Hub and its staff.