Meet Yolanda Vargas, a member of WITH’s Self-Advocate Advisory Committee.
Individuals with disabilities are disability experts, after all, so we feel lucky to have a committee of experts that can help us with projects that improve access to healthcare for individuals with developmental disabilities.
How did you learn about the WITH Foundation?
I heard about WITH through a mailing list and then as soon as I opened that email I received a message from a friend saying I should go do this so. I decided to send in an application. But I did get a bit of a chuckle out of the timing. Because my response to the message was “are you watching me?” And they had no idea what I was talking about.
What has been your experience with health care through the years?
I have a tolerant and loathe relationship with healthcare. I need it, it allows me to be a part of my community and I couldn’t live without it but, at the same time having to deal with the healthcare system while having a developmental disability can be really emotionally and mentally draining. From a young age I was patronized and choices were made without my consent because I didn’t realize I had the power to intervene and make my own decisions. Now as a twentysomething I’m a bit more prepared to deal with the constant fight to receive the health care that I need.
Was there an “aha” moment when you realized that you wanted to advocate not just for yourself, but for others with disabilities too?
My “aha” was when I joined Youth Organizing Disabled and Proud and started working with and for people with disabilities who have the exact same questions I had about health care before I was forced to start taking control of my own health care. I knew that self advocacy skills were important and of course being a role model is a powerful thing but I also wanted to not just be a symbol but a person that worked with other people and fought for other people to reach tangible goals and help people build happier and healthier lives.
I went from being a person who was afraid to ask their doctor questions to the Youth Organizer and Curator of a blog.
The blog helps youth with disabilities find their voice on important disability related issues including health care. All because I never want other people with disabilities to feel the way the healthcare system has made me feel.
What kinds of things would you like to accomplish on the Advisory Committee of WITH Foundation?
I think the work that the foundation does is amazing and so necessary especially in a time where healthcare despite being so central to the survival of so many people isn’t guaranteed. We as a community in the disability worlds need to continue to push for inclusion and innovation. I hope that I can bring new ideas and perspectives to this group as well as gaining skills that I can continue to use throughout my career.
Thank you Yolanda!
The mission of the WITH Foundation is to promote the establishment of comprehensive healthcare for adults with developmental disabilities designed to meet their unique and fundamental needs.