“We have to harvest and cultivate our own stories not just to feel valid but to feel rejoiced.”

 

July is Disability Pride Month, observed since 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, barring discrimination against people with disabilities. It is not about awareness, but rather celebration.

 

A public school teacher, Mrs. Leonard, identified my hearing loss. I remember her kneeling down, holding my hand and telling me, “Your hearing loss does not have to stop you from anything.” Over the last 33 years from that moment, I have learned to advocate for the support I need to be the student, employee, community member, and individual I want to be. To be my full self. 

 

My daughter Elise also has a hearing loss disability. When we told her the results of her hearing screening, she cried and asked, “Why does all the bad things have to happen to me?” I knelt down, held her hand, and told her the same message Mrs. Leonard told me. And I told her how my disability is something I am proud of, it has shaped me to be the person that I am.

 

I am running for school board to show Elise that a disability is to be celebrated. I am running for school board to advocate for the support that all of Seattle Public School’s 8000+ special education students need to “cultivate their own stories.”

Illustration by Lisa Quine