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Why I Vote: Disabilities Can Happen to Anyone

Disponible en Español aquí

Voting is not only a right but also a moral obligation of which we should feel grateful and proud. It’s the opportunity to make a choice, and be part of the changes we consider important for the individual needs of our families.

My family is part of a very important minority: families of people with special needs or disabilities. But though my requirements may not represent the majority of the population, it’s important to remember that disability is not a choice — it’s a circumstance without discretion. Anyone can become disabled in less than 2 seconds.

There are two points that are really important to me at the time of choosing a leader: Health and Education. I want my children to be protected on both sides.

A big misunderstanding from the general population is that people with disabilities want everything for free and that they are an expense to the country. That’s totally false.

If I worry about healthcare, it’s not because I’m planning on taking advantage of the system. If I fight for good choices, it’s because I know how hard it is to live with a life-long condition. Like any parent, I want my kids to grow up as healthy as possible and be able to one day cover their own medical expenses with their work.

Same goes for their education. I’m not obsessed with pushing them into a classroom that moves faster than they do, but I do expect that they be provided the tools needed to succeed at their own rate. Education will help them become useful citizens for the country, and that’s what I want for my kids.

I hate when I listen to politicians talking about my children, and people with special needs in general, as low-category citizens that have no rights to make choices. I hate listening to uninformed people discuss the right of children with special needs to be born and to have a typical life. Those are the times when I feel the need to jump in front of the crowd to remind them that these children are the most important people in their families and nobody has the right to decide for them and their lives. I want to see money spent on accommodating their needs so that they have a chance to show all of their abilities.

This why I want you to vote. I know how hard it is to face medical emergencies and how difficult it is to fight for the thing that should be a right, not a favor. If we don’t vote, things will never change. I’m the voice of my children right now, but I’m training them to become self-advocates and to give their best to their communities. I expect nothing else from them but to be the best they can

As parents of children with special needs, we need to join our voices and request that these topics are included as important points of discussion at political debates. I’m still waiting to see real inclusion when it comes to the voices of the candidates and it’s not going to happen if we don’t push for it.

Follow Eliana Tardio in twitter, facebook and youtube. I blog in Spanish at www.elianatardio.com

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