Campers and other friends, this month, I have some really great news! July is Disability Pride Month! I didn’t even know we had one of those, did you? But it turns out we do, and I’m really happy about that. I mean, what better time of year to celebrate our disabilities, than the month we all spend together at camp? Even if we’re not hanging out in person this year, seeing everyone participating in the virtual events has helped me feel connected to my community. Now that I know we have a Pride Month; I feel even better.
Another thing I didn’t know about until recently, and the real reason our pride month is July, is the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a super important law that helps give us access to things we need in our community, like schools, stores, buses, government buildings, and even captions on TV. It was passed on July 26th of 1990, which makes this year extra special as the 30th anniversary! But you might be wondering why a law being signed is such a big deal. I mean, legal protections are great, but most people don’t turn them into a month-long party, right?
Well, the ADA is special. It gives us more of the opportunities everyone else has. Laws like the ADA make giving us access to what we need not just the right thing, but the legal thing. Along with the 504, the ADA recognizes disabled rights as civil rights. Can you believe that wasn’t always the case? Imagine living in a time when stores, buses, and even schools could throw you out -or not let you in- for being disabled. It isn’t just the law we’re celebrating, either. We’re also honoring all the people like us who fought to make it happen.
Sometimes, being Disabled makes it hard to feel powerful. We are taught that being strong or heroic means we have to do things on our own. But that isn’t true. People with disabilities are powerful. During the Capitol Crawl and the 504 sit-in, people with every kind of disability worked together to make the world a better place. They communicated their plans for the day with ASL, they transferred other people, they sang songs, and they fed people to support each other as they worked to pass the law. The ADA and 504 are proof that together we can be leaders, and heroes, and powerful. If that isn’t something to be proud of, then I don’t know what is. So, happy disability pride month to all my friends from camp! Never forget how awesome we are.