Hey! My name is Priya, obviously, and I’m one of the founding members of YO! My disability, called arthrogryposis, is basically the fusing of the joints. It majorly affects my knees, fusing them in the “criss-cross applesauce” position, but affects my wrists and fingers, as well as my ankles.
As I said before, I am one of the founding members of YO! I was there in the beginning when YO! was just a fledgling, and I saw it grow. It was actually quite fascinating to see. Our first event, a focus group to determine the direction of the group, had 4 people attending plus the coordinator (staff). But our Slam event that we just had had about 100 people, with about 45 of that 100 consisting of members of our youth group. It was amazing!
I am currently in my senior year of public high school. I’m the only kid in my entire school of 1,600 with a physical disability. However, I don’t have an intellectual disability, and the school administration doesn’t really know how to let me grow and be independent while also providing the necessary accommodations needed. I have fought with them on so many things to increase my independence but they don’t seem to understand. They don’t understand that when they say I can only have a limited number of books to carry on my lap, they are not only limiting my independence but also insulting me. They are basically telling me that I do not have the common sense to determine what is too heavy for me. I find that extremely insulting.
But I am affiliated with a grass-roots organization called ADAPT that fights for the rights of people with disabilities. ADAPT was one huge reason why the American with Disabilities Act was passed so many years ago. ADAPT was also the reason that all public transportation has lifts and accessible seating for those in wheelchairs. My first National ADAPT action was in the Spring of 2013 and I immediately fell in love. (See my page on ADAPT.) The people of ADAPT soon became a second family because they were so welcoming and friendly. I knew that these people had my back, that they truly cared if I was there. But if you weren’t cooperating with ADAPT or were making horrible choices for the disability community, they would make sure to show you the error of your ways. The people of ADAPT taught me that my disability is something to be proud of, and because of them, I am proud to be a part of the disability community and disability rights movement.