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Be Kind

A few weeks ago I received an email in response to our final Pride Month eblast. The email, and the few that followed from the same sender, were all very anti Pride and anti the LGBTQIA+ community. I was completely disheartened as I read them, but as someone who is straight, it served as an excellent reminder just how important movements like Pride Month are. It reminded me that a little kindness and acceptance can go a long way in making the world a better place.

July marks another important month, Disability Pride Month. But as many Paralympic athletes across the globe excitedly pack and prepare for the Paralympic Games, I learned that a United States Paralympic Gold Medalist was forced to withdraw from the 2021 games when the USOPC would not allow her to have a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) with her at the games. Becca Meyers is a 3 time Paralympic Gold Medal Swimmer, a World Record holder, she is also deaf-blind athlete. Meyer shared her story in a beautifully written piece on USA Today, and frankly I do not think I can do justice to the importance of this story. Below is an excerpt I found particularly powerful, you can read her full story by clicking HERE.

"I have repeatedly been told that I do not need my PCA whom I know and trust.
The USOPC informed athletes that there will be a single PCA on staff available to assist me when needed. But this PCA is also responsible for being on call for 33 other members of the Paralympic swim team. There are eight remaining visually impaired athletes competing on the swim team alone, yet not one person on the swim staff is specifically certified to work with blind or visually impaired athletes.
How could I possibly set foot in a foreign city, with the numerous restrictions and barriers that COVID-19 has put up, and expect to feel safe for two weeks?"

The idea of trying to navigate a foreign city without help is intimidating to me, add to that the stress of COVID-19 protocols and disabilities that can limit communication, I truly cannot imagine how overwhelming that would be. Asking for ONE person to help you navigate those challenges hardly seems unreasonable to me. Just look at the US Olympic Equestrian Team, correct me if I am wrong, but if they can bring one groom per horse, why can't our Paralympic Athletes have their own PCAs? Don't get me wrong, I love my horse, but why are we giving better accommodations to equine athletes than our Paralympians?!

It is easy to overlook months like Pride Month, and Disability Pride Month if you are not part of the communities that they represent. But the last two months have just gone to show how important they are. Our work to make this world kinder and more inclusive is not done. So today, and everyday, please remember to Be Kind.