People with Disabilities—PWD—live a much different life than the politically correct definition would have you believe. The PC definition frames us as weak: focusing on the specifics of our disabilities, our "challenges," how to be polite to us, things like that. In reality, though, PWD rarely fit that PC definition. Most of us are pretty strong, and many of us are overachievers. We excel in what we do. We reach further and higher and think harder so as not to be seen as a "weak link" that we can be portrayed as.
That’s why the Comcast Abilities Network Employee Resource Group (ERG), along with the Veterans and Hispanic ERGs, held The Fitness and Technology Fest at Comcast Center in Philadelphia on June 16th. We wanted to celebrate abilities, not disabilities. We want to draw all abilities into our perspective on life which can be cool, fun, and rewarding.
Approximately 100 employees attended the event, which provided hands-on demonstrations of a variety of fitness opportunities for all abilities - augmented cycles, seated and traditional yoga, and seated and traditional Pilates. I am sure you have seen someone on a recumbent bike or hand crank bike and wondered what it would be like to ride it. Imagine being able to try one with no risk, no failure, just for fun? Many of my coworkers of all abilities were able to do just that.
We even got to try out some "Deskercise" moves at the event. A lot of us sit at a desk, on the phone, for several hours each week. If you’re anything like me, you can feel a bit "blobbish" while sitting, and there isn’t much you can do about it. What about exercises you can do sitting at your desk? I mean sure: I have to sit in my chair because I can’t walk, run or jump – but we both want to do something at our desks. We share a similar desire, no matter what our ability.
When I joined Comcast a little over a year ago, I saw an opportunity to really grow the Abilities Network, an ERG intended to provide a safe haven for all employees, a feeling of community for anyone. We also wanted to provide resources for employees that may have a disability, whether visible or not, and not require them to disclose at the door to participate. When I started, the Abilities Network was a handful of dedicated people with a vision. With each event, we grew stronger as our active membership grew. We now partner with intention and plan events with external organizations, waving a flag high that draws support from other ERGs. That flag is not the tired old PC version of PWD, but the vision those of us with disabilities have of ourselves – our abilities, and our power! Sure, we may do things a little differently. But those differences can add variety to the experiences of everyone, including someone who is fully abled. Our Fitness and Technology Fest did just that.
These are the events that make me proud of all of my abilities and to work for a company that embraces them. The Fitness and Technology Fest was the perfect time to step back to celebrate a great community and forget about disability.
Andrea Cifor learns new exercises at the Fitness and Technology Fest.