ThisAbled is built on the concept that in order for people with disabilities to be free they have to be politically and economically empowered.
The ThisAbled Philosophy
Throughout our existence as Thisabled persons we have been bombarded by how much the government, non-profits, and other similar services were going to do for us. We are victims who some how needed the salvation that only comes from "trained professionals". Don't get us wrong there are many organizations, government and otherwise, that have assisted many persons with disabilities in becoming independent. However, statistics show that people with disabilities are among the most impoverished groups in our Nation. The pattern of hand to mouth benefits is not working for us. If anything it is engulfing our community in a virtual prison of unemployment, poor health, and poverty.
10 Simple Principles
• Believe that you as a person with a disability are equal in value to the people around you.
• Believe that you have something society can benefit from.
• Understand that your disability makes you unique not different.
• When the boat is sinking do not use another person with a disability as a life raft.
• When you get to where you’re going draw a map for someone that may not know the way.
• Realize that government benefits are a beginning not an end.
• Do not let others define your goals or measure your success.
• Use the ballot box to send a message.
• Educate the young.
Believe that you as a person with a disability are equal in value to the people around you.
This is a hard one. Not because it is not true but because many of the messages people with disabilities receive tell them this is so. From movies to commercials, from “friends” to family we are bombarded with pretty pictures and excess bravado. The problem is that if you reinforce a message long enough some people are going to start to believe it. Don’t believe it! Madison Ave. makes millions in selling products to “beautiful people”. Do not measure equality in terms of your limitations. Measure it in regards to what you can do or offer as a person.
Believe that you have something society can benefit from.
Many of us know others who believe that there is very little they can offer society. Why? Because that is the message you receive on a daily basis. We don’t have a job for you. We don’t have housing! You cannot work and receive benefits. How can we feel valued when the messages we are getting are negative. Imagine the child who grows up with these societal-imposed affirmations. This is why we phrased Principle Two the way we did. It is important to give language back to people with disabilities in a positive manner. Therefore, it is society that is getting a “benefit” from us, not the other way around.
Understand that your disability makes you unique not different.
Different often connotes something negative. It also, brings to mind something or someone that is not like us. Whereas unique is one of a kind, like Michael Jordan or Albert Einstein.
When the boat is sinking do not use another person with a disability as a life raft.
This is especially important in environments where people with disabilities are competing for similar resources or in employment situations. We have all witnessed a situation where a few agencies were offered meager funds, and they fought tooth and nail against each other to get them. Not once did any of them say, let us stop and see what is best for the people we serve. In other instances individuals with disabilities who were employed questioned why someone else with a disability received a benefit and they did not. If someone is doing well congratulate them. If someone has fallen down give him or her a hand up. Why? What you teach to others will play forward. they will learn and re-teach.
When you get to where you’re going draw a map for someone that may not know the way.
None of us is going to make it alone. We sometimes need to figure out how to navigate the system to get to the next step in our journey. We spend time looking up at the goal and often forget to look back. Change starts with you! If you have the opportunity hire someone with a disability, mentor or just offer support, do it. Those are real life maps that help people find their way.
Realize that government benefits are a beginning not an end.
In order to get a firm footing in life we often depend on government assistance, there is nothing wrong with that. Sooner or later we all need a hand-up not a hand out. Teach yourself or your kids with ThisAbilities that benefits are temporary if used at all. That in order to flourish we must think of benefits as a last solution not the first answer.
Do not let others define your goals or measure your success.
Define success from an individual point of view. Everyone can succeed at different levels and different time schedules.
Use the ballot box to send a message.
You have the right to vote and the obligation to do so. Nothing speaks louder than a group or individual’s ability to vote someone into office (or out). Ask any senior citizen.
Educate the young.
The young people hold the key to diversity, inclusion and equality teach them acceptance without prejudice.
Don’t just sit there, do something! Revolutions are not started by those who sit (or stand) while the rest of the world passes them by! Believe it or not political and economic empowerment of people with disabilities is a revolutionary thought for many people.
Mr. Javier Robles, a graduate of Seton Hall Law School, and served as the Deputy Director of the NJ Division of Disability Services (DDS) until March 2010. DDS is a $370 million dollar Division situated in the New Jersey Department of Human Services. The Division provides services to over 19 thousand people with disabilities on a monthly basis. After an unfortunate accident at the age of 16, Robles became a C5 quadriplegic. After his accident, there were plenty of people, including medical professionals, who said, that he would never regain any movement and strength, he would never have children and would be collecting Social Security for longtime.
Robles rejected these assumptions and negative stereotypes and went on to finish his education and eventually attended and graduated from Rutgers University and Seton Hall Law School. Robles, also worked as the Project Officer for the NJ Medicaid Infrastructure Grant, which sought to change employment outcomes for people with disabilities. He also oversaw the Personal Assistance Services Program (PASP), the NJ Modular Ramp and Low-Riser Step Program, and the Personal Preference Program. He was a member to the Governors Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigration and is President of ThisAbled LLC. ( www.thisabled.com ) a for profit corporation by and for people with disabilities.
He is the Past Chair of the Drug and Alcohol Advisory Council for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Disabled and a past member of the Governor’s Working Group on Latino Issues. He served on the NJIT EmployMe! and the Business Advisory Council. Mr. Robles was an organizer of New Jersey’s first Latino Health Conference and the Latinos with Disabilities Employment Conference and was Chair of the Governors Conference on Employment of People with Disabilities planning group. He also chaired the committee that planned the African Americans with Disabilities Employment Conference. Moreover, he is a delegate and founding member for the Latino Leadership Alliance of NJ a Statewide umbrella Organization for Hispanic agencies and business and a Board Member of Canine Companions for Independence.
Mr. Robles has received numerous awards including, Minorities with Disabilities Advocacy award, the Seton Hall University Ramon Ramos Medal of Courage, Commite Noviembre Award, President of the Year, Angel Award and has been the North East Ambassador for Canine Companions for Independence. He has been published in Seleciones, an article about “living with a disability”, New Mobilty, Disability.gov, ThisAbled.com.
He has been featured in The Star Ledger, The Home News Tribune, Despierta America, The Roccio Show, Images/Imagines, Sally Jesse Raphael, We The People, and Survival After SCI. Originally from Newark, Mr. Robles now resides in New Jersey with his wife and daughter.