Massachusetts Easter Seals piloted a program this weekend in Boston called Thrive: Empowering Young Women with Disabilities. The program paired young women with disabilities with women mentors with disabilities. The program touched on a number of different themes that impact young women with disabilities. Some of the workshops included impact ability, Thrive against ableism, media’s depiction of people with disabilities, and health care advocacy. The keynote speaker was Harilyn Rousso and she read excerpts of her book “Don’t Call me Inspirational-A Disabled Feminist Talks Back”. As a woman with a disability myself I was so energized hearing pieces her book and am very excited for it to come out on January 31, 2013. Some of the other programs and individuals involved in the Thrive program this weekend included Impact: Ability, EPIC empowering people for inclusive communities, Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts Patti Panzarino 2012 and Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts Santara Sen 2010.
The Thrive program is something that I wish that I had as a young woman with a disability. Growing up with a disability I didn’t have that many individuals in my life with disabilities and most of my mentors were able-bodied individuals. This program gives a safe place for young women with disabilities ask the hard questions, to figure out what they’re supposed to know and to connect with others with disabilities like themselves.
I tell you being a part of this program was amazing. I got the opportunity to spend a weekend with some of the most strong confident, independent thinkers, empowered, determined, supported, beautiful women with disabilities. I definitely hope that this program is one that Easter Seals continues to support.