Words by Tess Becker
Everyone can end up with a disability that affects their life in minor or major ways. And yet there is a lot of stigma towards disabled people without many resources to help them live fulfilling lives.
That’s where the organization, CIDNY, comes in.
CIDNY stands for the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York. It works for the betterment of disabled people across the USA's most populous city.
“We are an organization that connects people with disabilities to services, education, advocacy, etcetera,” Jeff Peters, CIDNY’s director of communications tells Smiley News. “We're a one-stop shop for anybody who has a disability, who is related to anybody with a disability, or who is interested in anything disability-related, or anything to do with accessibility.”
Their work includes advocacy, education, and connection to social services, providing a voice as well as resources for disabled people.
They are currently working on an initiative to promote wellness and mental health in the disabled community.
Many disabled people find themselves isolated and alone as a result of their disability. This predicament is becoming increasingly scrutinized for the ill effects it has on physical and mental health.
Research shows that loneliness is connected with high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, and even death.
CIDNY took note of this and looked for solutions to help disabled people struggling with loneliness and their mental health. So they began employing reassurance counselors who reach out to isolated people to talk to them and check how they’re doing.
“We've had people tell us ‘Wow, thank you so much for reaching out to me, I have no family,’ or ‘I don't have any friends that I associate with, I live by myself,”’ Jeff says. “Maybe they're living in a nursing home or they don't have anybody to interact with. So that's one of the ways that we've been trying to reach out.”
Another great way they’re helping is through the CIDNY Wellness Fair.
“We will be showcasing all types of wellness, including physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, and financial wellness,” they write.
Since mental health issues are rarely viewed as disabilities, resources are rare for people struggling in this way. Fortunately, this has changed in the last year, thanks to CIDNY.
“Through my research, and education, I've found that just having one pillar of support or support person is a major protective factor against suicidal ideations or anything of those sorts,” program coordinator of Mental Health Services, Ann DeAngelis tells Smiley News. “So having someone to talk to really impacts every day of somebody's life and that's why I really love our wellness and reassurance program.”
CIDNY's key goal is to help disabled people experience more fulfilling lives with support that's otherwise difficult to find.
“Sometimes individuals will call and say, ‘I can't do X, Y, and Z because of my disability,’ and we really try to focus on what you can do,” Ann says. “It requires self-love, self-compassion, mindfulness, meditation, inner strength, and resilience.”
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
American Civil Liberties Union. This is one of the largest civil liberty defense organizations in the US. Find out more and support them here.
Human Rights Campaign. This is one of the largest equality-focused organizations in the US. Find out more.
The Trevor Project. They focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for queer youth. Support them here.