My name is Nina Garcia; I am a Self-Advocate. I am writing this article to heighten awareness and sensitivity for citizens with disabilities in the Virgin Islands. In March 2012 I attended a two-day Self-Advocacy Summit in Baltimore. While I was there I learned a lot about how to advocate for myself and other people with disabilities. Each state and territory broke into groups to establish goals to accomplish when we go back home. Our group from the Virgin Islands came up with a main goal. The goal we came up with is “Sensitivity and awareness for Virgin Islanders with disabilities”! There is a big problem in our community about “hiding” people with disabilities. This is a cultural stigma and our goal is to help de-stigmatize all Virgin Islanders with the challenges of a disability. We are all part of the Virgin Islands Family and have contributions to make.
April 21, 2012 the Disability Rights Center of the V.I sponsored a function at the St. George Botanical Gardens in St. Croix. The function was called “The Art of Being Human,” and the purpose of that evening was to make people aware of the abilities of people with physical and or cognitive challenges. In order to do that, they performed a skit using nine different people with different disabilities to inform the community about their everyday challenges. I was one of those nine people to tell my story through a poem I wrote. I feel that this function was one of many successful ways to overcome our cultural stigma towards people with disabilities in our community. Our work as self advocates will continue. Sincerely yours,