September 15, 2017 | Madlyn Jennings, 2017 AAPD Summer Intern
Forming your identity is something that most people do before they reach adulthood. This was not the case for me. I was not able to completely form my identity until after I was an adult. I have had a disability my whole life; however, my disability was not something I incorporated into my identity. I did not have meaningful interactions with other people with disabilities or learn about the disability rights movement until I was in college. It had never occurred to me that my disability is something I should integrate into my identity. It was just something I had to deal with.
The events of these last two summers has helped me realize how important it is to incorporate disability into my identity. There is an entire community that was revealed to me once I accepted my status as a disabled person. The first event that really opened my eyes was the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) conference which I attended during the summer of 2016. The programming associated with the AAPD Summer Internship Program, which I participated in during the summer of 2017, further illuminated to me the unique opportunities I have as a result of being a member of the disability community. I have faced barriers in my life as a result of my disability; however, I had never realized the vast array of barriers that other people with disabilities face. I have never liked crowds, so I probably will not be attending protests anytime soon, but I am committed to helping other people with disabilities overcome the barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their full potential. I hope to obtain a job related to this commitment. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.
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Madlyn Jennings is a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern. This summer she interned with the National Education Association (NEA).