Jesi Stracham is a wheelchair user and has no problem with it: Over the years, she has learned to accept herself as she is and to detach herself from societal expectations – she no longer wants to have any labels put on her. How she has achieved this mindset, why every day is a good day for her and how she otherwise rolls, she tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Jesi Stracham Age: 28 City: Iron Station, North Carolina, United States Occupation: Director of Wheel with me foundation Impairment: Spinal Cord Injury
Jesi Stracham: It took me a while to answer this question. A good day is every day that I'm alive. Don't get me wrong: Small inconveniences can bring frustration, but I can truly say I'm living a full life. Daily gratitude for how full our lives are makes every day a good day.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Jesi Strachem: My wheelchair and AxioBionics wearable therapy are the two most important pieces of equipment I use. My wheelchair obviously gives me freedom. My AxioBionics wearable therapy has helped me reduce muscle loss in my glutes and thighs – in addition to reducing spasms and nerve pain. Wearable therapy is an electric stimulation short.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Jesi Stracham: From society: Don't disable us more than we are. If we don't ask you, we don't need your help. Your perception of our life is not our reality. Also to those with kids: It's not contagious, allow them to ask questions. It's how they learn.
From people with disabilities: Don't allow societies perspective of you alter your perspective of you. There are over seven billion people in the world with around 15 percent of them being a person with a disability. I know I had a victimized idea of a wheelchair users' life before I started living it. Don't feed into that and do not expect people to know what you need. We need to use our voice to advocate for change. Before labeling someone – usually creating further divide – explain why the situation doesn't work.
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Jesi Stracham: Preventative healthcare. Stop making us get hurt or sick before covering the medical supplies that would prevent us becoming hurt or sick in the first place. This is an broken cycle that needs to be addressed.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you to do so?
Jesi Stracham: Self acceptance. Disability or not, a lot of people never accept who they are or find a purpose. Through continuous work – physically and mentally – in addition to letting go of what others think of me, I have found true self acceptance.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future?
Jesi Stracham: Forget Corona for a minute: The additive technology industry could learn to ask people with disabilities what would make their life easier, rather than creating what they "think" would make it easier. We live this life daily, we are the perfect resource.
If nothing would be impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Jesi Stracham: John F. Kennedy. He was not only a war hero but fought for the civil rights act. I believe he would be an incredible ally to the disabled community.
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Jesi Stracham: I have never been there before.
What I finally want to say...
Jesi Stracham: We only get one life. The best part is: You're in control. Stop worrying about what others think and start living your life for you. Letting go of judgement of who we think we should be based off of societal norms is one of the most empowering tools to have in your tool box.