Becoming Able to Thrive

When I was 12 years old, my dad and younger brother were in a car accident. My brother was killed and my dad was paralyzed. The only reason I survived that is because people around us showed us that my dad had a future as a quadriplegic. He now lives completely independently, drives himself to work every day, and even danced with me at my wedding.

Brittany and her dad

It wasn't easy for any of us, but once we knew it was possible to adapt and thrive, we had a vision to work toward. Each of us took the necessary steps to establish our new normal as individuals and as a family.

I didn't realize the support we had wasn't guaranteed for others in our situation. We were situated near a great hospital, my dad had health insurance and stayed in in-patient rehab for five months, and we have a strong family support system. It turned out that we were very lucky.

It's 2017, yet it doesn't feel like much has changed since 1998 when we started our journey. Families like mine are still on their own to navigate resources and not everyone lives near great hospitals like we did. Sure, the internet makes resources more accessible, but how are you supposed to know where to look or what to type into a search bar? Everything has been thrown up without considering how to structure or simplify access. Would you google "quadriplegic driving" if you didn't know quadriplegics can drive?

There are people all over the world with that disability or some other disability who sit in their homes and think that they have no future. There's people like me and their family members who can't be there for them because they don't even realize what's possible.

The average stay today for people in in-patient rehab is 37 days. I know how much my dad was still learning after five months in rehab. People have time to learn how to survive, but it's time to make sure everyone has a chance to thrive.

The articles, videos, products, and services that show what's possible are buried all over the internet, leaving families uninformed and underserved.

That's why we need AbleThrive, a one-stop platform making it easier for families to adapt and thrive with a disability.

AbleThrive website

Our new platform is serving people with paralysis and their families to start. When you sign up for an account, you specify your interests and the mobility of your fingers, arms, trunk, and legs, to receive a customized feed of resources that we have curated from our growing network of over 170 organizations, companies, hospitals, and blogs in 13 countries.

Learn how others who move like you get dressed or explore accessible destinations for your next vacation. Learn how others in similar situations approach dating or how other caregivers manage their day-to-day routines.

I work for a day where you hear the word "quadriplegic" and you think of someone like my dad — living his live to the fullest.

Brittany and her dad

We live in a world where Netflix will tell you what movie to watch next, but we leave families like mine to figure everything out on their own. It's time to apply technology to tackle a global problem with a scalable solution that completely revolutionizes how people approach life with a disability. Join us so that no one is left to think their life is over before it actually is.

About the Author

Brittany Déjean

Brittany Déjean is founder and executive director of AbleThrive, a social enterprise with a mission to enable people with disabilities and reframe the perception of disability in society. A 2008 Harvard University graduate, Brittany has worked with disability communities in five countries, giving her a sense of the common challenges faced globally. She specializes in building disability allies by debunking misconceptions associated with disability to foster a more inclusive society. She is an Echoing Green Global Fellow, Global Good Fund Fellow and is one of SE100's most inspiring Social Innovations and Social Entrepreneurs around the world for 2017.

Most of the stories here on Live Quickie were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 6/20/2017 12:00:00 AM

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