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17 things Stella Young wanted you to know

Stella Young, who has died at the age of 32, was a passionate, provocative and funny activist for disabled people. Here are 17 things she wanted people to know

Author: Matthew Liddy, abc.net.au Published: 2014-12-24 16-20-00 Viewed, times: 1471
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I started calling myself a disabled woman, and a crip. A good 13 years after 17-year-old me started saying crip, it still horrifies people. I do it because it's a word that makes me feel strong and powerful.

Half of all people with disabilities [in Australia] live near or below the poverty line. Less than 40 per cent of us participate in the workforce ... In fact, Australia ranks last among the OECD countries when measured on quality of life for people with disabilities.

I dance as a political statement, because disabled bodies are inherently political, but I mostly dance for all the same reasons anyone else does: because it heals my spirit and fills me with joy.

Stella Young, on dancing and disabled bodies

These mages - there are lots of them out there - they are what we call inspiration porn. And I use the term porn deliberately because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people.

That quote, 'the only disability in life is a bad attitude', the reason that's bullshit is ... No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp. No amount of standing in the middle of a bookshelf and radiating a positive attitude is going to turn all those books into braille.

I don't think the question is whether or not Australia can afford to do this. It's how much longer can we afford not to.

I want to live in a world where we don't have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own names in the morning. I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people.

It doesn't matter how we got like this. Really. If you're just sitting next to one of us on the train, or taking our order at a cafe, you don't actually need to know.

Just because we are hanging out with a non-disabled person doesn't mean they are a carer. Disabled people have friends, partners, kids, parents, siblings and families just like everyone else.

Stella Young delivers another lesson to the ambulant

Disabled people are not nice and grateful all the time; we get pissed-off when things don't go our way, just like everyone else.

Your kids are going to stare. And that's perfectly okay ... If you tell them not to stare, or discourage them from asking questions because you think it might upset us, you're teaching them that looking different is something to be ashamed of. It's not.

I've been an atheist for a long time - ever since I first heard that there was only a stairway to heaven.

While [Peter Singer] may see value in the life I'm living now, and may even treat me as an equal, he still believes that on the balance of things, parents and doctors should be given the choice to end lives like mine before they get tricky. For me, and for many other people with disabilities, it's personal.

Stella Young responds to philosopher Peter Singer's view that parents should be given the choice to have their disabled babies killed after they are born

We get so few opportunities to publicly and raucously celebrate our community and the amazing contributions people with disabilities make. The Paralympics are ours. Hands off.

I promise to grab every opportunity with both hands, to say yes as often as I can, to take risks, to scare myself stupid, and to have a shitload of fun.

I've never thought I was going to die young. But I'm aware, sometimes painfully so, that there are people who do.

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