My dad and younger brother were in a car accident when I was 12 years old. My brother was killed instantly and my dad broke his neck and became a quadriplegic. We had no idea how to fathom our new reality.
Thankfully, we lived an hour from one of the top spinal cord injury rehabilitation hospitals in the US, which gave us the resources and support we needed to re-establish our lives. My dad re-learned every aspect of his daily life and the rest of us adapted to our new normal. I related to other families whose lives were affected by disability. The more I felt these connections, the more I sought them out—most formatively when I was abroad my junior year college in China. I conducted a one-month study investigating the lives of people with disabilities.
At a rehabilitation hospital in the city, I met a man from a small village who had broken his back, but has more physical mobility than my dad. It was easy for me to see how this man could have a future, but when I talked to him he told me he would spend the rest of his life in bed. Plagued by inaccessibility and negative perceptions of disabilities, he had no concept of what was possible for him.
As I contemplated the situations of others in the same situation as my family, I realized how many people were geographically isolated—unable to meet others in their situation and out of reach of resources. I began to understand how lucky my family was when my dad was first injured with the support we had that got us on a path of recovery and adaptation. I was troubled by the thought of the man in rehab destined for a life in bed and so many other people’s stories that had touched my life and opened my eyes to the reality that plagued the entire disability community. What could I do about it?
And then it hit me.
Experiences, advice, and information could be shared. No one would have to experience the isolation of disability. No one would be geographically isolated. I could create a mechanism that allowed families like mine to share and collaborate across borders—uniting us all in something greater. An empowered community that understood that people with disabilities should be encouraged to redefine their abilities, thereby redefining negative stereotypes simply by fulfilling the potential they didn’t know they had. We could live in a society where people with disabilities thrived as active citizens.
I started AbleThrive to work towards that vision. AbleThrive is a one-stop platform of disability resources customized to the interests of our users and the details of their disability. We also bring visibility to the lives and abilities of people with disabilities to shatter antiquated stereotypes.
If you want to be a part of AbleThrive, you can register for an account at AbleThrive.com, like our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/ablethrive), join our Global facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ablethrive ) or join our Facebook group in Singapore (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ablethrivesg/)