Facing the challenge: Meet Amy
The Post Independent, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, begins a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who have different disabilities. Twenty-seven percent of Americans experience some disability. One hundred percent are a part of our community. Each has a story.
Amy is a stellar writer, loves her cat, and is working on a degree in sociology at Colorado Mesa University. Her voice will change you. Her story is worth your time.
A little bit about myself: I was born without legs. My left leg goes all the way to where a normal foot should begin and then my right leg goes to about where a knee would be. With that, I was born with a syndrome called Moebius. It is a difference that affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerves in the face and comes with a lot of facial paralysis.
A lot of people who have Moebius cannot move their tongue, their eyes in a horizontal direction, they may also have a hard time communicating or speaking, they may have swallowing issues and just some general difficulty with the function of the face. It’s like a permanent Botox, so there you go.
I was actually born with the inability to smile, which was also because of Moebius. In 1999, I had a surgery in Toronto, Canada, that allowed me to smile. I had to go back twice. They took a muscle out of my right leg and put it in my face. Then they took a muscle out of my left leg and put it into the left side of my cheek so both sides have a muscle that help me to smile. It’s not automatic. I have to think about doing it. For you guys, when you’re happy, when you laugh, it comes automatically. It doesn’t come automatically for me, I have to think about it.
I joined VLFA in 2015 as an intern and in 2016 I moved up officially to program assistant, which is what I do now. We are working towards an inclusion campaign with our motto that everyone has a story.
So, right now, if you don’t mind, I am going to share one of my stories with you. It’s pretty random but pretty funny. I had put it on FaceBook on June 29, 2016:
A guy who works at Walmart approached me while I was with my mom, walking away from the carts. The employee says, “Miss, do you need an electric cart (meaning mobility assistance)?” Meanwhile, I was wearing shorts and he could see my prosthetics. I replied, “No, thank you. I like walking … Oh, and also, I like to work out too!”
My mom smirked after I said this. OK, I know that may have been rude and conceited, but it was so much fun to say!
So, my hashtag with that was #killthemwithkindness. Ya know, the other thing, I was reading my comments on the page and I said that I could have been upset but I chose not to be.
This is what I’ve heard my entire life. And some people they just don’t know. They don’t know what to say, they don’t know what to do and so they don’t even want to approach me. It’s just good that I can use my power and help advocate. I have learned that getting upset about the situation actually makes it worse.
Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. We want to hear your voice. Request a training or join the conversation at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or #voicability4all. Help us redefine the perception of challenge.