Rachel Foreman, a 25-year-old single mother born with cerebral palsy, navigates through life from a power wheelchair. She faces many physical barriers every day, but her biggest obstacle is society’s perception of disability. “I wish people could better understand the life and needs of people like me,” she told the Chicago Tribune last week. “I’m constantly trying to break the stereotypes of cerebral palsy and of people with disabilities.”
It’s not easy raising two young children from a wheelchair, but Foreman’s family has adapted to her disability. Her oldest son, Mason, helps her reach for things on counter tops, and both children know to stand by her side on a busy street or in a crowded line. “They’re my life. They make me happy. And they accept me for who I am, wheelchair and all,” said Foreman.
It’s not easy running errands, bathing or making it to appointments either. Foreman only gets as much as she can carry at the grocery store, and has a home health nurse help her with personal care. Foreman relies on public transportation, which, “is not always handicap accessible,” so getting to her two weekly physical therapy sessions requires time spent planning ahead.
Waiting at bus stop or out with her kids, Foreman can’t help but notice the way people look at her because of her disability. She wishes she could live in a world where people would see her just as her kids do. “I just wished that people treated me more like my kids do when it comes to my disability.”
July 26, 2017 marked the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Foreman believes that the ADA has yet to change the negative image of disability, but her children leave her optimistic for the future. “Hopefully it will with their generation, through their actions.”
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