Age 48, mild CP
Photographed by Kaitlin Jensko
I am proud of my disability, although I wouldn’t say that I was always very proud, until in my twenties, I discovered self-advocacy. I thought of myself as someone who needed to be “taken care of” and “needy” which is why I was in special schools. When I first met Pat, she taught me I was “normal as I am.” I first thought self-advocacy was strictly political- boy was I wrong…it was a way for me to learn how to say “No” to my parents and others. When I first told my parents, “No,” I was scared to death that they would forget about me. I was living in an institution at the time, so I thought my parents would leave me there, whether it was true or not, I felt scared.
Now I work as an advocate not only for myself, but for others. When I learned and felt comfortable advocating for myself; I decided I should learn how to advocate for others. I feel very strongly that I can’t just advocate for myself, I need to advocate for others. But I can’t forget about myself too, then people may not take me seriously, and say, “You are not advocating for yourself, so how can you advocate for others?” When I help a person who is a beginner in advocacy, then and ONLY then will I be proud. My job as an advocate at Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) isn’t just about me, it is giving to the larger community.
At AUCD, I host Tuesday’s With Liz: Disability Policy For All, a video series where I interview policy makers and advocates on issues that matter to people, so ALL people can understand them. I work for the Council on Quality and leadership and recently received the Elizabeth Boggs award for leadership and the Katie Beckett Award for leadership in advocacy.
“If I’m only for myself, who am I? If I am not for myself, who am I? And if not now, when? “