From Kara Aiello
|Flash Mob near Capitol Hill Kara is 3rd from right)|
About two weeks ago, I participated for the second time in an amazing event known as the Roll on Capitol Hill or ROCH in Washington D.C. Sponsored by United Spinal Association, ROCH in an annual legislative advocacy event that addresses issues that impact the health, independence and quality of life for individuals living with spinal cord injuries and disorders.So every summer, people with and without disabilities come together in D.C. for four days to learn, advocate and educate to our Congressional leaders' policies affecting the everyday lives of people with SCI and related disorders. Although I do not live with a SCI, having a disability from birth (Osteogenesis Imperfecta-Brittle Bones) makes this event as important for me as all involved, since the policies on the table affect us similarly. What these policies give to us as individuals, helps us to give back and be contributing members in our communities, which makes a better world for everyone.
The event isn’t all work, as important as that piece is; it’s also loads of fun and a great way to meet people around the country who, regardless of disability, share a common experience. It’s not to say that our disability experiences aren’t different, be it we are newly injured or face a disability from birth, but it’s nice to meet other wheelchair users or people who have shared experiences and can relate. Examples of shared experiences include being stared at (not that we don’t check each other out too, ha ha), or being around persons who are standing and tower over us (although I met some chair users who towered over me as well). And it was nice to talk to people eye to eye, joking and laughing about shared events and experiences in our lives that aren’t always understood out in the world. But it’s also important to add that people who are there and don’t live with disabilities bring their own understanding, compassion and experience to ROCH, United Spinal and our own personal lives. We have board members who have loved ones who live with SCI or related disabilities, rehab staff who spend their lives helping people regain a quality of life out in the world, and countless family members and friends who want to be a part of their loved ones’ journey, and that makes for a great community of which to be a part. It’s also the only event I have attended where I have met more than two people with the last name of Aiello and are not blood relatives, and all we can say is,“I never meet anyone with my last name.”