Opinion

Sisters Inspire Disabled Community to Share Social Distancing Experiences

social distancing: Illustration of 2 women in wheelchairs; one is on phone the other working on laptop

Credit: Jessica Oddi and Lianna Oddi

.

Last week, while I was interviewing a source for my column, I was alerted to an online campaign by an Instagram page called The Disabled Life. Its founders, sisters Jessica and Lianna Oddi, started the campaign to put faces on a community that is more vulnerable to COVID-19. The campaign, #ThanksForDistancing, called for people in the disability community to share their experiences with social distancing by writing a post and/or uploading a photo or video using the hashtag #ThanksForDistancing. 

disabilities: Deandra Mouzon (headshot), Georgia-based journalist, smiling woman with black hair, earrings, orange top

Deandra Mouzon

If you search the hashtag #ThanksForDistancing on Instagram, you’ll find many photos of people making silly poses, sitting outside, dressed up, many with masks on. The Oddis, who live in Ontario, wanted to say thank you to everyone for staying home and potentially saving the lives of people who are particularly at risk of contracting COVID-19. This is their way of doing that.

Jessica and Lianna, who both live with congenital myopathy (as well as awaiting further diagnosis), run The Disabled Life website, where they talk about the “jerks and perks” of living while disabled. “It’s our online rantings about being disabled, and a way for us to share our funny-at-home-banter on the internet,” they said, answering questions together by email. The Disabled Life started as a blog where the sisters would draw comics and write posts about their lives, but they recently moved it to Instagram because they feel it is more accessible.

Jessica, 28, and Lianna, 30, began #ThanksForDistancing to shed light on an issue they were finding in the disabled community. 

“We were seeing a disconnect between the blanket statement of ‘vulnerable population’ and the real people that COVID affects. That’s why we started the campaign, to connect the dots, but on a human level. We also understand that it’s difficult to empathize with what’s going on when you don’t personally know someone affected by this, which is why we decided to bring these stories to the masses.”

They said they hope able-bodied people will see these posts and feel motivated. 

“We’re hoping that when people feel discouraged or frustrated by distancing, they can look at these stories and remember why we’re sacrificing so much. As disabled people, we’re used to these kinds of precautions. But that doesn’t mean we don’t understand how hard it is. So we’re hoping this campaign spreads a little bit of empathy, understanding, and support for everyone.” 

social distancing: 2 smiling women with brown hair in wheelchairs

Lianna Oddi (left) and Jessica Oddi

The Oddis think social distancing, although necessary, has both positive and negative aspects. They see both sides of the coin and want to share their message. Their 1,261 followers are also on board to advocate for this cause.

“To be blunt, disabled people’s lives are being saved. We can’t speak for the entire community, but when you’re immunocompromised you tend to follow these distancing protocols. The only difference is that the rest of the world is doing the same! Which is huge, because it’s lowering the odds of us contracting a disease we can’t survive. But, of course, there are negative effects to the community as well; some people can’t have their usual care, medical needs aren’t being met, and in some places medical equipment like ventilators are being taken away. There are sacrifices all around.”

In my work, I have found that many people in the disabled community are finding outlets to voice their opinion about the current situation. Campaigns like #ThanksForDistancing are vehicles for a diverse group of people to get together and support a cause that affects us all. As we continue to follow stay-at-home orders, remember that you can find support all around and that despite our differences we are truly in this together.

If you would like to contribute to this column and share your story about life during quarantine with a disabled youth, email me at Deandra@csjournalism.org.

Deandra Mouzon is a Georgia-based journalist who received a B.A. in journalism from CUNY’s York College. Currently she is working on a publication about youth with disabilities.

Comments

Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.

DONORS & DONOR TRANSPARENCY

We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)

Youth Today's ISSN: 10896724
Our XML website site map:
https://youthtoday.org/sitemap.xml

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Logo Grant professional Association Business Alliance
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2019 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
1200 Chastain Rd, MD 00310, Chastain Pointe Bldg 300, Suite 310, Kennesaw, GA 30144-5591

To Top