I am a disability advocate, artist and an aunt. I am writing about Awakenings, which means to be suddenly aware of something. We all have those tiny moments of awareness.
I do not remember having my own values. I remember learning about them.
In today’s story, I am going to tell you about an awakening I had, and how the friends I have had supported me through it. I will start in high school. My school was in an institution in New York. I lived and went to school from 9 AM – 8 PM. We had a strict point system. The more points we had, the more opportunities we received. Only on the weekends were we allowed to spend time off campus. I do not remember having my own values. I remember learning about them.
My relationship building grew eventually.
As a student, I remember having friends. I was not into dating but my studies. It has been 19 years since I graduated. Coming home to Ohio I had very few connections. My relationship building grew eventually - all it took was one person, one choice and one location.
...supported me and loved me for who I am.
I met my friend Katie at a local restaurant . There was an event there for her husband who had decided to run for city council. Since day one of meeting her, she and her husband have not just supported me but loved me for who I am and not a person who has a disability. I also met Nancy while I was a board member of the Ohio Self Determination Association. We would help each other out at meetings and events hosted by the organization. We have fun at the conferences. Nancy and I are friends and great working as a TEAM together.
With my friends’ kindness wrapped around me, I feel supported and loved.
Diana Mairose is a voting rights advocate who works as an Advocacy Support Adviser for Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services.