Throughout my reign as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, I have had the opportunity to attend numerous events in which the speaker would speak of “Disability Pride”. Although I had never heard of this term prior to MWKS, I fully understood the concept and what they were trying to display, but I just could not completely wrap my head around it.
I know this might sound odd to some of you, but I do not see myself as disabled. Yes, I know that I have a spinal cord injury, I cannot walk, and technically, I do have a “disability”, but I am not disabled…I do everything that I want to do in life and am proud of what I have accomplished thus far.
I read an article today about US Paralympian Nick Springer who completely summed up all my thoughts about the difference between having a disability and being disabled. He said, “a disability might be permanent but being disabled isn’t.”
That quote hit me like a ton of bricks because that is exactly how I feel!
I think like an Olympian…how cool is that? I will bask in that for just a quick second, but what I think it really boils down to is perception. How we see ourselves as people directly influences our mindsets. If you think you cannot do something, chances are you won't be able do it. If do not see yourself as disabled, you will not let things hold you back. You will learn to adapt and live your life just as you see fit. Keeping an open mind is a necessity.
So here’s the thing – I am proud of who I am and I am proud of my accomplishments, both pre-accident and post…if this makes me have disability pride, then perhaps I have finally figured it out. I'll leave that up for you to decide!
Nonetheless, check out CBS’s article on Paralympian Nick Springer – what a great role model and a kick-ass athlete, if I say so myself!