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Empowering people to be allies of disabled people: A new influencer shares her road to recovery from two strokes

When Maysyn Gordon had her first stroke, she was only 24 years old. Thirty-six hours later, she suffered her second stroke, which affected her body’s left side.

Now, 28-year-old Gordon uses her Instagram account to educate people about disabilities and advocate for more inclusivity. She is using her voice to give others a voice. At DiffStrokes4DiffFolks_ Gordon shares the struggles of a person with a disability in her day-to-day activities, such as climbing down a staircase backward when there’s no double railing, having to get used to a new brace that hurts her feet, or the differences between brain injuries.

Gordon had to learn how to walk, talk, swallow, move her hands — she had to regain movement in her body.

“I had to learn how to move with a full body but only half of it is working,” she commented. “I’ve done a lot of therapy, outpatient, inpatient, and I learned a lot about stroke. But I’ve been out in the community now and I’ve noticed that the biggest struggle with having a disability is society and how people see people with disabilities.”

In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly published the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons. The preamble includes thirteen proclamations that describe the definition of a disabled person and their rights. In 2007, the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This international human rights treaty aims to protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.

“I like to use my Instagram to show the world and my followers and whoever that I’m a disabled person, but I’m still a 28-year-old person who likes to do normal 28-year-old things. I still like to get my hair done, I like to get my eyebrows done. I’m still a human and I have a disability, but I have to maneuver the world a little bit differently,” Gordon said. “I like to educate the public about ‘hey, this kind of sucks for people with disabilities or mobility issues.'”

Gordon uses humour to speak about stroke and disabilities. She mentioned she uses all the resources Instagram gives her to be creative and deliver content that is relatable to all of her followers — a mix of people who have also been impacted by a disability, supporters, and people who want to learn. Her style is what drove Raquel Eray, who doesn’t have a disability, to follow her.

“She talks about (disabilities) in such a heartfelt way… so a topic that would be hard to talk about, is treated gently,” Eray commented. “I think it’s worth understanding other people’s struggles, because since we don’t go through some situations, we don’t really know these people’s realities.”

Prior to the stroke, Gordon loved going camping and being outdoors, but her adventurous lifestyle had to be put on hold for a while. While Gordon was in the hospital, recovering from her brain surgery and stroke, she felt isolated. She commented she was in a ward with senior patients and couldn’t understand how and why she had suffered a stroke — an answer the doctors couldn’t give her until this day.

“I felt really alone in my ward at the hospital and I looked around me and it was like, no one was like me. I felt alone and that’s why I started my Instagram, because there are other people, even younger, that have had a stroke. You want to go on Instagram and you want to relate to what you see.”

Gordon commented many Instagram accounts talk about motherhood, fitness, cooking, etc., but she hadn’t found a lot that advocates and teach about people with disabilities, so she took that job upon herself. It is through her humorous personality that Gordon has been connecting with others and creating content that everyone can relate to and learn how to advocate for better accessibility for people with disabilities.

“I’m really just myself on my Instagram. I think a lot of people like that about me because I show the bad parts of disability, I show parts that I am crying all day… I show all parts of having a disability. I really wanted my followers to say ‘hey, I want to follow Maysyn because she’s funny, she advocates, she educates, she raises awareness,'” she said.

Eray said that she has been more aware of how important accessibility is.

“I am paying more attention to the places I go to know if they are accessible. If I am ever in a position where I have to make decisions about my work or recreation space I now understand the importance of accessibility and that it’s the least we can do to make everyone feel included,” she added.

Making people more aware and wanting to become allies for people with disabilities is Gordon’s main goal.

“Follow people like myself. There are other Instagram (accounts) that have disabled creators, ask them if there’s anything that you can do to make places more accessible. It’s really empowering for people to be like ‘Oh my God, I didn’t even notice that,’ and then they will go out and pay it forward,” Gordon said.

To follow Gordon on Instagram, search for @DiffStrokes4DiffFolks_

LINKS:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CVDhmdGJMXA/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CVlYVGRBE2Z/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CVVkymPpUqK/

– Ligia Braidotti, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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