Written by: Jasmine Duckworth, the Community Development Manager in the East District.
I’d been working for Christian Horizons for over a decade when I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. As I was navigating the beginning of that journey one of my coworkers asked me “would you consider yourself to have a disability now?” I thought of myself as sick, or chronically ill, but I had not yet applied the word disability to myself. As soon as he asked, I knew the answer immediately; “yes.” It was an easy identity to claim because I had no stigma attached to it.
For years I have been connected to, mentored, and cared for by people with disabilities, both at Christian Horizons and in my personal life. I am grateful for the way my career prepared me to live in a disabled body, and for the continued support I’ve had from colleagues and from the people I serve. Christian Horizons is a unique employer in that most of my coworkers have been, or are, direct support workers so they intuitively offer support when they see me struggle with tasks. They have been willing to help carry my lunch when my hands are weak, lift heavy boxes, demonstrate NCI techniques when I led training, and offer an arm to steady me as I walked.
I am grateful for my disability in how it allows me to connect with the people I serve in a new way. We often find we have had similar experiences with the medical system, with needing support in daily tasks, and with ableism. When I show up to events with my walker, they’ve been happy to see that I have wheels like them just as much as I have been glad to see they have wheels like me.