The Power of Sport
When I became a part of the disability community, I knew nothing about the community that I was thrown into. I knew nothing about what living life in a wheelchair would be like, though my first thoughts of what life would be like were pretty bleak and nothing like what my life currently is. At first I thought that my future would be filled with limitations and many things I could no longer do because of my disability. But after all these years I wonder why I didn’t see all the potential my life still held and the many things I could be. Why did I only look at my limitations rather than all the possibilities available to me?
Did you know that nearly a seventh of our population is living with a disability? In the U.S. that number rises to one out of every five people and in the disability community our employment rate is very poor. It’s shocking to me that in today’s world we still have to fight to show that disability rights equal human rights. Being a part of this community, I understand the necessity of this right, but how do we change how we integrate disability into a mainstream role in our society?
The one thing that had the biggest impact on my life since I became a part of this community is sport. Sport has the ability to truly turn upside down any myths of disability and include people of all abilities. It brings out people of all grace and athleticism to participate on an equal playing field.
When I came to New Jersey a month ago I know some people were interested to see how I could ride. I’m sure some people weren’t sure how I could stay in the saddle or mount the horse. But it’s through the love of horses and the joy of the sport that people wanted to learn more and included me. My disability wasn’t a stigma or limitation at the barn because I was able to show how empowered I am in my life through what I’ve learned. Through my riding I was able to show that I am in no way disabled by my disability.
I hope that the perception of disability in our society will change as I experience when I’m riding at the barn. Access for all should be a priority, not an afterthought. I hope we see more people with disabilities in the media and in executive positions, as we create a society of inclusion that fosters growth for all members regardless of their perceived physical limitations.