Distasio Law Firm enacted the Birth Injury Survivor Scholarship as a way to highlight the impact birth injuries can have on a person’s life while providing financial assistance to a chosen winner’s education. The survivor of an in-utero stroke that resulted in cerebral palsy and scoliosis, Ashley Bedore has arrived at a unique perspective on her disability that truly impressed the scholarship committee.
From a young age, Bedore wrote, “I saw myself as faulty and a mistake in need of fixing.” Now, after a year of living independently at the University of Colorado – Denver, learning about her rights as a disabled person, studying for a sociology degree, and embracing herself with self-love, she has a new outlook. “I’ve transformed my identity from broken to confident.”
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Empowerment is a crucial part of learning to love yourself and your disability, according to Bedore. What helps create this sense of empowerment is reflecting on how a disability has changed your perspective, feeling comfortable enough in your own body to ask for the accommodations you need to do the things you love, and assisting others.
For example, Bedore has been an outspoken advocate for increased accessibility measures for live music (one of her passions) as venues open up after COVID-19 closures. She even interviewed with VICE about live music accessibility after her tweets on the subject went viral.
Following in the footsteps of her aunt and uncle, Cristy and Paul Marchand, she has dedicated much of her time to learning and teaching about the civil rights afforded to disabled people. In her spare time, Bedore is also part of a mutual aid group and handles administration, cooking, and gardening tasks. According to her, the work has enriched her life at least as much as it has enriched those she cooks and gardens for.
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“That’s what mutual aid is all about,” she said in an interview with Distasio Law Firm representatives. “[It’s about] that reciprocal care.”
At Distasio Law Firm, we admire Ashley Bedore’s outlook on life, her dedication to assisting others, and her drive to educate and better herself at all times. Perhaps the most fitting and poignant way to sum up Ashley Bedore is to use her own words. Concluding her winning essay, Bedore wrote, “Accommodations make you equal, and asking for them is your power. Nobody sees the world like you, and that is always a strength, not a weakness.”