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Differences Are Always Worth Celebrating

             July is Disability Pride Month, which holds a special place in our hearts here at MTA Benefits. Many people say that they have not previously heard of this pride month, but it has been around for more than three decades. Disability Pride Month was established in 1990, which was the same year that a major legislation was passed – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – signed on July 26. This legislation prohibits the discrimination of people with disabilities, which was a crucial moment in American history. To commemorate this new law, Boston held the country’s first Disability Pride Day event. From there came a full month of celebrating the differences of those with disabilities.

              Although this month of pride is not as popular as others, it’s very important, and it’s celebrated nationwide. Major cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York have annual parades in solidarity with their disabled brothers and sisters. There is even a flag to wave proudly as you walk the city streets. This flag consists of many colors which forms into a shape reminiscent of a lightning bolt and symbolizes the obstacles that disabled individuals must navigate and overcome. These five bold colors represent the five different types of disabilities: Mental Illness, Neurodiversity, Invisible Disabilities, Physical Disability and Sensory Disabilities.

              Unfortunately, representation for members in this community has been lacking for centuries. We see this lack of representation in places like the media, the government and the workplace. However, this month grants us the opportunity to help solve this issue by shining a light on this vibrant group of individuals. Once we focus our attention on celebrating every July, the hope is to allow this celebration to echo on throughout the rest of the year, and for years to come. Eventually we hope to see more disabled representation in our everyday lives.

              We are living in an era where it is easier to get the word out about things like this via social media. All it takes is a minute to post something about a disabled person whom you admire, share a post spotlighting a special story, or support a disabled content creator. Other simple things you can do on social media is caption your videos or include detailed descriptions – anything to ensure disabled individuals have equal access.

              Think of a disabled individual who makes you smile or inspires you and show them your appreciation this month! Whether that is with a social media post, a warm hug, or walking side-by-side at a Disability Pride Parade. The closest parade to Massachusetts is in New York City, but it has been postponed until October this year. Luckily, there is another event that you can attend there this month called the Disability Unite Festival at Naumburg Bandshell. Grab your friends and head over to NYC on July 17 for this fun-filled day or if a trip isn’t in your plans, you can enjoy the festivities remotely.

              Keep in mind that disabilities can sometimes occur unexpectedly. If you suddenly become impacted by a disability, MTA Benefits can help ensure that you are financially prepared. In doing so, we offer the MTA Disability Plan, designed specifically for MTA members. This plan provides tax-free income either on a short-term or long-term basis and may be available through your local education association. Be sure to contact your local president to find out if your association participates in our program.

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