Model: Yessenia Leyva
Director, Disability Programs & Training, Inc.
Growing up, I was always treated “normally,” so I was minimally involved in disability related activities. When I became an adult, I thought, “OK, now what?” The resources were no longer the same. In 2011, I began receiving services from the Center for Independent Living of Broward where I was later employed. I found my purpose there, helping people like myself become independent and self-sufficient. I learned I am on this earth to challenge the word “disability” because it means “unable.” We are creative in how we accomplish tasks; it could take longer, and we often call on deep inner strength, but we can and do get it done!
If you don’t have hands, eat with your feet, and if you don’t have feet, walk with your hands. If you don’t have a tongue, speak with your eyes. If you don’t have eyes, feel with your hands, and listen with your ears to be led by your four-legged friend. In order to accomplish these tasks, we often approach our own unique abilities with a positive mindset. Use that which you have been given to create a unique YOU. I am a unique ME – one who inspires all to create a more diverse, unified, and overall accessible community.
I thought I wasn’t good enough. I thought that “someone like me” would never be given the opportunity to be on radio or television. However, I have performed on radio and TV, hosted red carpet events and continue to be a voice for people with disabilities to be mainstreamed in media. I am producer of FUNclusion, promoting INclusion through entertainment events.
Let’s silence the societal perception that people with disabilities are “unable,” as we continue to step into visibility in our communities.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something, and I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”- Edward Everett Hale
Photographed by Isabella de León