By Menachem Rephun, Communications Manager and Self Advocate
It’s been two years since the Covid-19 pandemic turned the world on its ear. During that time, loneliness and isolation have spiked dramatically, especially for people with disabilities, many of whom continue to struggle with lost or restricted access to vital supports, programs, and services. The fact that the disability community is uniquely impacted by loneliness and isolation is born out statistically as well. A 2019 report by Statista.com found that 40% of people who identified as having a severe disability reported experiencing loneliness and social isolation, and this has only become a more pressing concern due to the enforced social distancing, quarantining, and lockdowns of Covid-19.
In August 2021, we decided to tackle this problem head-on by launching Creative Spirit Connect, a virtual, peer-to-peer community created by and for people with disabilities, that would create a true sense of belonging, allowing us to network professionally and connect with, and learn from, other individuals with shared experiences. Our creation of this group stemmed from the realization that there was a conspicuous lack of social media groups focused specifically on employment for people with disabilities. In addition to providing an outlet and resource for networking, CS Connect serves as an extension of Creative Spirit, expanding awareness of our mission to connect people with disabilities with fair-wage employment, as well as the coaching, mentoring, and job placement services we provide.
At a time when trolling, misinformation, and toxic behavior are unfortunately running rampant in online discourse, Creative Spirit Connect offers an alternative through an inclusive, understanding, judgment-free environment for people with disabilities seeking to make friends, network, and advance their careers. The group also promotes self-advocacy and empowerment, rejecting societal stigmas against people with disabilities and instead affirming the gifts and capabilities that they have. In short, Creative Spirit Connect is about sharing our own unique perspectives, rather than being labeled and defined by others. We embrace the “social model” of disability, which emphasizes barriers in society, rather than the disability itself, as the obstacle to be overcome. While deciding whether or not to disclose one’s disability is a major concern for many people, we
If you or a loved one are living with a disability, Creative Spirit Connect is the opportunity you’ve been looking for to connect with others socially and professionally. In these troubled, tumultuous times, we’re going the extra mile to ensure that no one feels isolated, marginalized, or excluded. Visit this link to view the group: https://bit.ly/34JZXn8, and click here to learn more about Creative Spirit and the services we provide: https://www.creativespirit-us.org/.