As we celebrate World Cerebral Palsy Day, BVIslander and differently abled Karyn Alexander is calling for more community compassion and inclusivity for persons living with this disorder.
“Not just me, but other persons with disabling conditions did not, nor are they now given much accommodations. People do not accept that individuals with disabilities are different, not lesser persons.”
While noting that she has had a normal life outside of physical activities, Karyn highlighted some challenges faced.
“Yes, often enough, most often in subtle ways… there were persons who doubted my intellectual ability, excluded me from activities or ignored me.”
But Karyn wouldn’t let this stop her aspiration to excel academically.
Her scholastic achievements include an Associate’s degree in General Studies – English from the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies and a Master of Science degree in Digital Audience Strategy, both conferred by the Arizona State University.
“Academically, I had few issues and these were mitigated by compassionate teachers, a committed student aide, my immediate family and supportive relatives and friends,” she added.
Karyn is compassionately imploring persons in the community to foster a better relationship with differently abled persons.
“Have real conversations with us, get to know us on a personal level, recognize and respect our abilities, find ways to use our abilities so that are able contribute meaningfully to society.”
As the world continues to raise awareness, there has been a global call for more inclusivity from policy makers.
Karyn urged local legislators to craft policies that will support this.
“Develop comprehensive policies that cover educational opportunities, employment, accessibility and health care services. Ensure that service agencies such as banks are more accommodating to disabled persons. For instance, if one cannot write, should there not be alternative ways of affirming the validity of a document?”
She also spoke to awareness opportunities and the importance of accessibility of infrastructure.
“Awareness through educational programs can be part of school and community activities. When planning structures, ramps, restrooms, corridors , entrances and exits should be fully accessible. Incidentally, I would point out that these physical plant features would also be beneficial for persons with health issues, senior citizens, people who are temporarily disabled and custodial workers.”
“WE ARE DIFFERENT NOT INFERIOR”
Perhaps, one of the most profound part of our conversation with Karyn was her acknowledgement of the fact, that despite being treated contrary, differently abled persons are more than worthy of fair treatment.
“We are different, not inferior. We have dreams just as anyone else does. We have emotions; we feel pain, anger, loneliness, fear, love, happiness and companionship. We do not define ourselves by our disability, but by our character and personality.”
“Do not be afraid to talk to us about our condition because we understand why you are curious and why you may have questions,” she said kindly.
World Cerebral Palsy Day, which occurs annually on October 6, reminds us that there over 17 million people impacted by this disorder. CP is one of the most common physical disabilities affecting the most vulnerable among us — children. Additionally, CP occurs over the span of a child’s entire lifetime with no cure.
284 Media joins with the global community in raising awareness and support for those living with Cerebral Palsy.
We wholeheartedly thank Karyn Alexander for sharing so candidly.