Let me first begin my entry by introducing myself: My name is Krystan and I am originally from Long Island, NY but I am currently working on my Masters degree from Temple University in Communications Management so I live in Philadelphia. I have been to DC before and I am absolutely thrilled to be here again! For this summer I will be working at the Department of Homeland Security in the Civil Liberties Office.
Well, suffice to say, this week has been a whirlwind. I can’t believe it has already been a week to be honest with you. I learned a lot from the AAPD orientation, especially about networking; which is something I struggle with. Although we had many inspiring speakers and had group presentations on the Book No Pity I feel like it would be more relevant1 for me to share my experiences of traveling to and within D.C.
It has only been about a year since I had to start using a wheelchair more frequently so all of this traveling/shopping in a wheelchair is all a relatively new experience for me. When I traveled for the first time across state lines in my wheelchair I am not over exaggerating when I say I looked like a hobo. Everything was hanging on my chair rather precariously via bungee cord. It was sad. It was slightly embassing but I really didn’t know how to travel with my chair and luggage. So, I did what had to be done. This time when I traveled I shipped some boxes ahead of me and bought a hiking pack that I strapped to the back of my chair. I used the tent pole strings to attach my crutches on as well. Now, I am not a genius and I did not come up with this solution on my own. I read about it on a blog for people with Cerebral Palsy who travel. The hiking pack solution made me feel much better and it also made me realize that I have a whole community of people with disabilities at my fingertips.
Apparently this community has been around for years, I mean the ADA was passed when I was in first grade but my whole life ha been spent separating myself, as best I can, from the disability community but this experience of figuring out how to travel to DC comfortably opened my eyes to the fact that I am part of this community. I am part of this group that has to accomplish things differently. I need the help from this community to figure out how to do life with a disability. This week at AAPD’s orientation showed me that this community needs me. I’m not sure what my place will be in it yet but being that we are the most marginalized group in America, being that we still face discriminations that are easily seen as appalling when aimed at another group not one person in the disability community can afford to waste their gifts by not doing something to change our current position in society