You Need to Be Seen

quote: You cannot be what you cannot see end quote
Marian Wright Edelman

The little boy in the wheelchair at the Starbucks needs to see you carry your own drink. Take your coffee and go up to him. Ask him his name and tell him you like the colors on his leg braces. 

That little girl in the walker needs to see you and how you carry yourself with pride because you’ve learned to love who you are. 

That teenage boy needs to see you get in and out of your modified car all on your own. 

The next generation of disabled youth need to see strong, independent, self-reliant disabled people in order to become strong, independent, self-reliant disabled people. 

You need to be seen.

I cannot tell you the number of times disabled kids and their parents would say things like You drive?! Can I see your car? or You live by yourself? In your own apartment?! 

You have to understand that, for a lot of disabled people, they’re the only disabled person they know. Our community is starving for positive role models. 

I spent over a decade volunteering with disabled kids in order to give them a positive role model and to help remove the barriers (and excuses!) between them and success. The program I was with literally had a group activity where we practiced opening doors by ourselves, and I can’t tell you the number of teenagers I helped into the driver’s seat of my car just so they can imagine what it would feel like to drive a car. 

If you have an opportunity to volunteer with disabled kids, please do it. They need to see people like us helping people like them. They need to know what they can become.

You need to be seen.