Santa E. Perez is a published author of Sitting at Eye Level: My Life s An Advocate” and an accomplished advocate. She currently serves as Chair of the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities
2020 has been a hard year for everyone. The word pandemic was only a word that was a far-fetched event that was written in history books. The unknown was scary and unpredictable. At first, it was only a rumor, then it was a concern that turned into shutdowns, which lead to far too many heartbreaks. And where do people with developmental disabilities and intellectual disabilities fit in all this? We are the largest minority group in the world, but when it comes to a global pandemic I, and many people like me, will be last on the human totem pole. The lack of information or direction was mute. We, who need support just to live were “quarantined”. We worried about the DSPs, who care for us each day, and the people we love.
I have Cerebral Palsy and asthma and I am Hispanic. I am not over 65 (yet), but one of the biggest reasons I wanted the vaccine was because of my asthma. I knew if I contracted Covid-19, it would be bad for me (and people like me). I know that if I would have gone to the hospital, they would have looked at me differently. They would look at my power wheelchair, the way I speak, the amount of care I need, and redeem me as, unusable, less than, unworthy of care. They would not see my value! A well-educated advocate who is well known in the disability community, A mom, and an author
Then finally, some signs of hope, but even with three vaccines that are available now, we still must fight our way to be in line. I can’t wait for the day when my community will become one greater minority group that is included in society. I think when we say Inclusion for all, that means the good and the bad. We are all going through the same things as everyone else: fear, depression, financial problems, etc. DD Councils are at the forefront of revealing the greatness of the disability community and its importance in The American Tapestry
I think about my disability ancestors who fought for our rights to be free. We have come so far and continue to break even more boundaries. We are pushing through the forefront to let our voices be heard, making our ancestors proud. Developmental Disability Awareness Month (DDAM) is a salute to them. I am proud to be a part of this community.