My name is Olivia, and I’m the founder of Attention and Action, an international movement to raise awareness around the barriers and inequalities people with disabilities face in society. This week, from January 11th to the 16th, we are running a campaign called #EndAbleism to raise awareness about how ableism affects people with disabilities, spark discussion and put an end to it.
#EndAbleism is open to all ages – we want to get people talking about ableism and to work toward collective action to end it. We’re asking participants to tag Attention and Action’s social media channels in pictures of themselves with the hashtag. In the posts, we encourage people to talk about how ableism affects them or people they love, and what they’d like to see change.
Why me – and why now?
I was born with short-term memory loss. I was diagnosed with this learning disability when I was in grade one because I was not grasping what was going on in the classroom and was falling behind. After I was diagnosed, I was moved into a homeschooling program within my public school.
The homeschooling program was for students like me and those with other disabilities. I would be in that program every afternoon and be in my homeroom class in the mornings.
The challenges I faced with my learning disability had a profound impact on my learning. It was hard seeing my peers getting good grades while I continued to struggle. The homeschooling program was meant to help me with my schooling and, in my honest opinion, it did not.
From there, in grade school and through high school, I had varying experiences in public and private schools. With specialized instruction and strategies that addressed my specific challenges, things began to get easier, but I still had difficulty in some areas.
Now I am a third-year political science student at a university in a demanding program. I had to work hard to overcome my challenges, but math and test taking is still challenging for me. In my opinion, when I was in the public school system, learning and other disabilities were not widely talked about. Throughout the years it has been discussed more, and now it is more a norm.
It’s very important to normalize disability. As someone who did not fully come out of her disability, I was scared of the stigma and discrimination I would face. My goal with this campaign is to normalize discussions around disability and help build a world where no one who has a disability should feel ashamed. Let’s start talking and educate others about disabilities!
About the author
Olivia Karp is a third-year political science student at a Canadian university and the founder of the Attention and Action movement. To participate in the #EndAbleism campaign, visit this linktree for links to the campaign’s social pages. You can also follow Olivia on Instagram at @LiveArp17.