This is where the staff of the Reeve Foundation is sharing up-to-the-minute information and putting some context around the news affecting the spinal cord injury and paralysis community. Not to mention insight into what's going on here at the Foundation.
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Here is a blog that's worth following
. It's brand new. Written by a young lady in her first year of college, which would be interesting enough for most people, but Arielle (aka Elle) is writing from the perspective of a young person who happens to be in a chair.
I've been long distance friends with her and her mom, Krista, almost since my first day here at the Reeve Foundation, six years ago. A little of Elle and Krista's back story is here
In just two blog entries Elle takes on what I think are two giant issues for people like me, not in a chair. Here's the first line from her latest:
I only have faint memories of my time in the hospital and rehab, but one thing that stands out in my mind was receiving dozens cards from my friends and family that read, “ Everything will be O.K., because everything happens for a reason.”
How Elle is still wrestling with this sentiment is not just educational ... I'd say inspirational, but then I read her first post:
(A non-wheelchair user was giving a speech to a room full of young kids living with disabilities at an event Elle was attending with her wheelchair racing teammates.)
“I just want to say that these kids are my inspiration, and I’m running this race for them, because they’ll never be able to.”
This is probably not something you should say to a room full of athletes with disabilities…
I felt a very strong urge to inform this woman that just because someone has a disability, doesn’t mean ####. Was she seriously going to victimize these children right in front of us? Not too long ago those kids were us, and if someone told me when I was little that they were going to run a race because I couldn’t, where would I be today? Probably not completing marathons and training with world class athletes, that’s for sure.
I was furious! I wanted to grab this woman by the shoulders and shake this awful idea out of her.
Whenever someone comes up and tells me I’m an inspiration, a part of me is sometimes irked because are you, like that young woman, completely categorizing and labeling me initially as someone who is disabled and therefore not as good… Then “inspired” because I broke this stereotype and accomplished something you thought I couldn’t? Or are you just impressed by my dedication and fortitude NOT as someone in a wheelchair, but as a human being? Inspiration is a tricky thing my friend.
I've had the "inspiration" discussion before, but went away thinking to myself, Whatever, you're in inspiration whether you like it or not. For the first time, I understand why someone living with paralysis wouldn't want that label and the emotions behind it.
Elle's is a clear voice, sharing bits of her life. Her real life. Thanks for letting us in Elle.
Read her blog The Adventures of Rain Dance Rel
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