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Millennial Disabled Woman Ramps Her Voice: Whitney

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RYV Interview Series Graphic - Whitney

This week, we have another millennial disabled woman ramping her voice about living with a disability, and how she views herself and her identities.  Whitney is a late-20something I was connected with by a former high school classmate.  Whitney strikes me as a true woman on-the-go, and the fact that she is a helping professional like myself definitely allowed us to connect on that level.  Whitney was gracious enough to give some of her time to be interviewed for the series, and I am thankful for her telling her story to the RYV! readers.

Whitney, tell the RYV! readers about yourself.

My name is Whitney, and I am 29 years old.  I live in Hartsville, SC and I have lived here all of my life.  I am a Certified Addictions Counselor Level I and I work full-time in this field.  I plan to pursue a licensure as a professional counselor and open my own counseling practice.  I attend church regularly, and am constantly trying to have a deeper relationship with Christ.  I also surf as often as possible during the summer.

What is your disability(ies) status?

I was born premature and as a result, I have Mild Spastic Cerebral Palsy

What are the misconceptions about those with your disability(ies)?

The most common things that I run into when meeting new people is that they are surprised when I tell them that I drive and hold down a full-time position as a counselor.  I had someone make the comment, “Oh, well I thought most people like you work from home.”  Some people do and that is fine.  That is not the case for me.  I have also been to several trainings for my field and I think people are surprised sometimes to see me there.  People also are surprised that I lead an active lifestyle.  I love to surf in my free time.

What stereotypes about people with disabilities do you think are most harmful to our ability to be treated as equal in society?

That we are made of porcelain, and that we are different from everyone else.

How do you view yourself, in terms of your disability(ies) status?

I am no different than anyone else.  I just happen to have Cerebral Palsy and ride a wheelchair.

What is it important for PWDs to ramp their voices about their experiences, discrimination, & ableism?

No one else is going to stand up for you.  If you want change, you have to take the first step.

Do you “own” your disability status?  How did you come to embrace your “perfectly imperfect” self?

Well, I realized I’m not going to go anywhere if I sit and have a pity party all the time.  I believe that God created me for a purpose and even though it gets difficult sometimes, I know He has a perfect plan for me.

Being disabled and a woman means that you endure challenges that others cannot fathom.  What have you learned about overcoming such obstacles?  

I just have to keep moving forward and keep being me.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Work hard because you will not get anywhere if you don’t.  Also, do what you can to become as independent as possible.

What empowering message do you want to share with your fellow disabled sisters?

Keep your head up, get involved in things you love to do, and surround yourself with positive people.

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(If you missed the first interview of this special series, click here to read Bree’s story.)

RYV! readers:  If you would like to connect with Whitney, you may leave a comment below, or send a message through the Contact page on the website.  All messages will be forwarded to Whitney for her to respond/connect.

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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