Advocacy: The Fire In My Soul

Last week I got asked a question that stuck with me, so I’d figure I’d talk about it. This person asked me “how did you become such a strong advocate at a young age?” The first memory I have of advocating for myself I was five years old, and I just started kindergarten. I remember each kid was assigned to a table and there were four kids at each table. The girl across from me started kicking me and repeated over and over “can you feel it?” “can you feel it?” When I was young, I had no idea what she was talking about all I knew is that I could feel it and it hurt! But now looking back I realize that she probably really didn’t know if I can feel my legs or not. Still, she wouldn’t stop and did this throughout the whole day! I tried to tell the teacher what was going on but as soon as I would try to tell the teacher she would stop kicking me, so the teacher didn’t do or say anything. Finally, I’d had enough, and I decided to take matters into my own hands! When we were leaving the school building, she acted all sweet and innocent saying, “Bye Kelsi my best friend!” So, I decided to chase her down the parking lot with my electric wheelchair yelling at her. Not my proudest moment at all but guess what? I never had an issue in that class again when it came to bullying. That moment is still something my family talks about to this day!

For those of you who don’t know I have cerebral palsy and I am also a wheelchair user, so my disability is more visible than others. That doesn’t mean anyone’s disability is more or less it just means that if you were out in public, you would automatically know that I have a disability because you can see it where other people might have to disclose their disability because it’s not easily visible. As much as I have learned to be proud of my identity and who I am growing up that didn’t really make things easy. Growing up often the first thing I had to think about is “is this place going to be accessible for me?” “What kind of accommodations will I need for this activity?” For example, if I stayed the night at someone’s house who’s going to be available to help me with personal care like getting dressed and going to the bathroom? This is something that nondisabled people do not have to think about. I don’t remember having to sit down with anyone and them saying, “OK this is how you’re supposed to advocate.” Advocating for myself has always been like a natural instinct for me because it’s something I’ve always had to do from a young age.

As I’ve gotten older the more, I’ve had to advocate for myself. Middle school and high school were probably some of the most difficult times for me because I knew that if I didn’t speak up for myself no one else would have. I remember one incident where I had a big math test coming up and the night before I received a call that my aide who was usually my scribe for all my tests was going to be absent that day. The lady who worked at the school assured me that everything would be taken care of, and I would have a scribe for the test. When I went to school the next day and I went to my classroom for math no one was there and apparently there was a miscommunication, and they did not have a scribe needless to say I was absolutely livid! I also made it known that I was not very happy that day and let my feelings be heard!

But being an advocate is not just when you have to be mean and tough you can be an advocate anywhere! In high school I was a member of my high school’s marching band where I played bass drum and the cymbals. Music has always been a powerful tool for me and has helped me get through some of my darkest times and even though I wasn’t necessarily trying to set out to make a difference or change people’s minds about how they perceive a person with a disability.  I know there were some minds definitely changed thanks to my high school career!

So, this is my message to anyone with a disability or has a family member or loved one with a disability that might be reading this. Every time you go out into the community and get involved you are an advocate whether you advocate in the classroom, at your job, or in Washington DC it is all important and you are still an advocate! So always remember that.

Advocating is not always an easy thing to do but it is so important! Make sure you are able to have a support system around you when things get tough! My biggest support for me has always been my family they have been a constant support and rock for me! Also try to find other people with disabilities in your community that you can come to for support.

This for me is a big reason why I started this blog growing up I didn’t have a lot of people with disabilities in my life that I can look to as a role model, so I’d like to be that person for other people. If you have a disability but don’t have a community, you are welcome here!

All my life I have always been an advocate for myself and others with disabilities. It is something I’m extremely passionate about and I have been from a very young age. I have been blessed with many opportunities to share my voice and lift others up! I don’t know where the future takes me or what I’ll be doing but I always know one thing advocacy will always be the fire in my soul!

2 responses to “Advocacy: The Fire In My Soul”

  1. And don’t ever hide your voice or hold back! Told you since you were a baby Can’t died in the poor house! You can do anything you want! Keep reaching for those stars Kelsi!! So proud of you and love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelsie
    I just love your blog. I’m not just saying this because we are friends. I love your style of writing. I love how you lay out your thoughts and points. I’m wondering if you haven’t found your calling as an author. Your blogs really speak to me as if we are sitting at a table together. Keep up the great work. I really enjoy reading your blogs❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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