In the midst of a lot of uncertainty with COVID –19 we hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. As people with SCI and disabilities I feel that we are both disadvantaged and have an advantage in this situation.
- We are the at-risk group
- The general population is panicking and buying disinfectant wipes, cleaners, gloves, and masks – products that are essential to our personal and medical care.
- Many of us rely on healthcare workers to live and it is impossible to completely isolate.
However, in a way, our population is a little bit more prepared to be stuck at home since many of us are already stuck at home due to lack of transportation, access in or out of our homes, pressure sores and wounds, surgeries, or finances. We know how infections spread and how to properly wear a mask and wash our hands. Additionally, people with disabilities are creative and the ultimate problem-solvers. We are resilient and adapt to a lot of surprises thrown our way.
During these times when we are being told to practice social distancing, I think about what this means to our community which is so often isolated. Last night over a board meeting we were discussing isolation. Someone brought to my attention that the words we are using are important and it helped me reframe this experience and what BACKBONES can do for our community during this time.
First, I would like to reframe the term social distancing – this is not what we want to do at this time. We do not need to feel more isolated. Instead, let’s practice physical distancing but increase our social connection. Humans are social beings and require connection (even introverts like myself). It warms my heart to see stories over social media of people checking in on each other or participating in activities virtually (yoga, art, dancing, e-learning). Many are spending more time with family members – this can be positive or negative depending on home situations.
Fortunately, BACKBONES has not had to cancel many immediate programming. In fact, we are in a great position to continue the work of our mission of connecting people with SCI/D with the community because much of our work is often done remotely. Communication between BACKBONES staff, volunteers, donors and board members is done via phone, email or video conferencing. Our newly launched Leaders Program takes place over Zoom Video Conference since December 2019 and consists of 11 people with SCI/D who are participating from all over the country and learning essential skills to become leaders in their community. Our PeerConnect program, which is a monthly online meet up for people with SCI/D also takes place over video conferencing or you can phone in. It is an excellent platform for people who would like to attend support groups but don’t have access to any locally or they have transportation issues, are stuck in bed, or they just don’t feel like leaving the house!
We hope that right now, more than ever you all take time to reach out to others and find connection. We will be doing our part by increasing the amount of PeerConnect sessions we offer in the next coming weeks. We hope that you will participate and will also provide feedback to help us create a space that is welcoming and helps you feel less isolated.
It’s painful and scary to feel left behind and neglected by society – we see you and are here for one another!
For more information on upcoming PeerConnect sessions please visit our Events Page
Founder and Executive Director