It is important to raise awareness about disability issues, promote inclusivity within our community, and be an advocate for mental health,
MOSES LAKE – To celebrate Disability Awareness Month, Big Bend Community College’s Associated Student Body and Accommodation and Accessibility Services welcomed Paralympic gold medalist Deja Young-Craddock as a virtual guest speaker Wednesday.
Young-Craddock told those in attendance her story of overcoming adversity. She explained how she was born with a brachial plexus injury that caused nerve damage and limited mobility to her right shoulder. This disability resulted in her experiencing bullying in school and a lot of resistance from recruiters and college coaches. These obstacles eventually resulted in a suicide attempt, but Young-Craddock persevered and become a Paralympic gold medalist. Now retired from professional running, she still advises other athletes and has become a first-grade teacher.
“Deja’s decision to share her personal story serves as a reminder that anyone is capable of overcoming their challenges when faced with adversity,” said BBCC Interim Director of Student Programs Sidney Dickerson. “I am thankful she was able to join us in honor of Disability Awareness Month. It is important to raise awareness about disability issues, promote inclusivity within our community, and be an advocate for mental health.”
Many of the attendees were Big Bend student athletes who got the opportunity to ask Young-Craddock questions such as what kind of advice she would give to student athletes on balancing school, athletics, and their personal lives.
Young-Craddock said self-care is very important. If students aren’t taking care of themselves, then other parts of their lives are not being taken care of.
“Take care of yourself first, because you are the most important factor in being able to be successful,” she said.
The gold medalist also wanted to relay to students that they are not alone. She has been through a lot of the same situations they have, and she understands how they feel and encouraged attendees to reach out to those around them when they are struggling.
“There are so many people around you that care about you and will help you in your darkest moments,” Young-Craddock said.