What It Means to Be an Ally for People with Developmental Disabilities
What does an ally look like to you? Is it Batman’s sidekick, Robin? Is it players on a sports team? Or could it be that one person who sticks up for the little guy? Who says it can’t be all of them?
How do you define an ally?
Merriam-Webster defines an ally as “a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle.” So, who can be an ally? The correct answer is: everyone. You, your neighbor, your co-worker. Anyone can be an ally, and Jay Nolan Community Services (JNCS) is full of people ready to be that support.
“Being an ally is being open to listening and what they need and want.” -Amy, JNCS staff
Take the dynamic duo, Grace and Amy, for example. This relationship is never one-sided; they act as each other’s allies based off their needs. Amy puts it best: “being an ally is being open to listening and what they need and want.” Grace agrees whole-heartedly and says her definition would be the exact same as Amy’s. Amy also makes another phenomenal point by emphasizing how it’s easy to pick up the traits and habits of the person you’re working with. In doing so, it helps to build the bond and relationship necessary to have such great teamwork as allies for each other. Naturally, with COVID-19 it’s been more difficult to have that in-person bonding. But that doesn’t mean being an ally stops there. Grace and Amy still communicate over the phone and ‘visit’ each other on Zoom. Grace and Amy are even able to watch movies together from their respective homes, and they’re both up for a good horror movie anytime.
Being an Ally During COIVD-19
Maintaining a community and being an ally can be challenging during this time. But being someone’s support system never takes a day off. A job may end when the work day is over, but an ally is on call at all hours. It takes organization, advocacy, patience, kindness, understanding, and compassion. An ally can provide a kind smile or even a listening ear. The goal is not to be perfect, because who is? The goal is to try and to try hard, because as Amy eloquently puts it: “people with disabilities are still here and still need advocacy.” Everyone needs an ally. Especially our supported individuals at Jay Nolan. Everyone has the opportunity to be that support or assistance someone might need in their struggle.
So, whose ally are you going to be?
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