In light of Disability Awareness Month, everyone should work to include people with disabilities


Emily Sandy

I was raised in a family with three siblings with a variety of disabilities: cerebral palsy, autism, ADHD, and severe anxiety. Through the many tantrums thrown in the baking aisle to the physical therapy waiting room toys I looked forward to every week, I felt this experience was normal.

However, as I got older, I quickly realized that this circumstance wasn’t at all a normal childhood experience. Although I was faced with these rare circumstances, my unique upbringing has taught me the benefit of learning about people with disabilities.

People with disabilities are just that, people. Although some may not communicate the same or show the same level of emotion, they are just the same as you and me. Through my years of sitting in waiting rooms and putting together fidget boxes, I adapted to my environment and normalized it. Now, as a 17-year-old senior, I have become an advocate for those with supposedly smaller voices. Instead of pushing those with disabilities down, society should lift them up for all that they can add to it.

Our world of uniqueness and diversity should be celebrated. People with disabilities can teach people a variety of things, including true emotions, ways of expression and varieties of spectrums. I wish that everyone had the opportunity to be in my shoes to see just how fruitful it is to be surrounded by my siblings.

Everyone wants to be included and loved, and rather than doing the bare minimum of accepting people with disabilities into our society, we should lift them up and give them grounds to express themselves.

People with disabilities face criticism, exclusion and pure hate everyday. Due to this, everyone can make a small effort to try and include them. It will truly make a difference on their lives.

I know this because of my brother James. James decided one day that his physical disability wouldn’t stop him and decided to join the football team as a manager. He went to every practice, lifting equipment and running across the field with five gallon jugs. The football team fell in love with him, and intentionally helped him and involved him to feel included. James helped me see how far a little inclusion can go, and that’s why I incorporate it in my day-to-day life. How are you going to incorporate it into your life today?

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Emily Sandy at [email protected]

To see more of Emily’s work, click here.