In No Pity, Joseph Shapiro described the disability community as a “hidden army” because if everyone in the US with disabilities and those who knew people with disabilities came together for one cause and one ideology, they would be the size of a “hidden army”. This concept spoke true to young and upcoming disability rights leaders, as they created a networking group for young professionals and activists with disabilities. With the establishment of the group, it was coined the name “Hidden Army.” According to my mentor, Curtis Richards, the Hidden Army group has now been active for three generations and continues to have a bright future.
I had only heard about Hidden Army earlier this year, when a fellow youth advocate suggested the I join the Facebook group. I was not sure what it truly meant until earlier this week when I attended a Hidden Army gathering. It was a magnificent day in the sweltering DC heat, and about 10 young professionals with disabilities met in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden. It was an enlightening and exciting two hours of discussion with topics ranging from the “Push Girls” to what the next steps are for youth in the movement. I left feeling encouraged and inspired by the voices of my peers; individuals whom I hope to work and collaborate with in the future.
As I look forward to the next meetup, I am determined to play a role in ensuring that the energy of our discussions and passion will transcend across the movement. Now, we just must ensure that our “army” is no longer “hidden” and show mainstream society that we are very much alive and visible.