Vandals Target People with Disabilities… Again.

This is the Finest Nerd Czarina, and I hate the news. Do you want to know what gives my life purpose right now? Supporting people with developmental disabilities in their vocational pursuits. After five and a half years of working in this field, my patience for the general public diminishes. I know most people can’t help but be ignorant, but there are some folks who seem to take pride in being bottom feeders. Prime example: Whoever did this to the Shake-A-Leg Miami.

boats on shoreline
Photo by Pok Rie on

SALM is a non-profit organization that works with people with physical and cognitive challenges, as well as those who have economic hardships, to provide a means for them to experience various activities in the water, such as swimming and sailing. The activities are adapted so that everyone is able to participate. It sounds great, right? So why would someone vandalize their equipment, causing $15,000 of damage? This isn’t the first time this organization has been targeted, either. So I ask this question to whoever did this or whoever thinks that this is not a big deal:


Seriously, what kind of disgrace to humankind would target an organization like this, that serves a population who so rarely gets access to social activities? What those who do not have disabilities or don’t otherwise have experience working with people with disabilities may not realize is that performing “everyday” tasks can be difficult unless there are accommodations that are put in place to make them manageable. As someone who does not use a mobility aid, I don’t really think about having to take stairs much. But if I had a friend who used one, they couldn’t come to visit me in my second-floor apartment because stairs are the only way to get in. I don’t think twice about hopping in my car and going wherever I want, whenever I want. Not everyone has that luxury. Why make it harder for those people?

Lots of people made fun of the Snuggie, basically a blanket with sleeves on it. But for someone who uses a wheelchair, this is a great idea. They can keep warm without worrying that the blanket will fall off or get caught in the wheels. I know the Snuggie wasn’t invented specifically for this use, but it happens to be a good idea in certain circumstances. Same with the Sock Slider. It’s not for people who are too lazy to bend over and/or reach over their toes. It’s for people who physically can’t bend or reach over. Maybe people would ridicule these products less if advertisers would, oh, hire actors with disabilities (remember what I said in my last post?), but I digress!

The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s tough enough for someone with a disability to live in a world that has so many barriers in their way. A small amount of compassion and understanding would tear some of those barriers down, but unfortunately, a lot of folks are so wrapped up in themselves that they won’t see things from any other lens than their own. But let me remind everyone that we are all just one freak accident away from a traumatic brain injury or sudden severe illness that could leave us with a disability. I could walk out of my house right now and get hit in the head by a falling tree branch. I could get hit by a car whose driver ran a red light. I could choke on my dinner and cut my oxygen supply off for just the right amount of time. I could go to the doctor for a headache that turns out to be aggressive brain cancer. That isn’t meant to scare anyone, but it is the God damn truth of the situation. No one should take their health and livelihood for granted, and they certainly shouldn’t actively make it more difficult for someone with a disability to exist in the world.

If anyone wants to donate to SALM to help them with the cost of repairs to their property, you can donate to them directly via this link.

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