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Disabled Lives Matter

Season 1, Episode 5

Co-Hosts: Nadine Vogel & Norma Stanley

Guest: Yvette Pegues

Intro: [Music playing in background] Disabled Lives Matter… here we go!

Voiceover: Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the disabled lives matter podcast with co-hosts Nadine Vogel and Norma Stanley... yay!

Nadine Vogel: Hi everybody, this is Nadine Vogel your host of disabled lives matter and joining me, as always, is our fabulous, gorgeous co-host Norma Stanley. Hey Norma.

Norma Stanley: Hi. how are you guys doing today?

Nadine Vogel: Good. How are you?

Norma Stanley: I'm wonderful thank you.

Nadine Vogel: So, we have a fabulous guest this evening don't we.

Norma Stanley: Yes, we do.

Nadine Vogel: Yvette Pegues, Yvette Pegues you are joining us with so many accolades and, and some in particular, that being that were you know, during women's history month I’m like wow time is good, this is this is appropriate. So, tell us a little you know I could steal your thunder by one do that because there's just so much going on with you so tell us a little bit about yourself.

Yvette Pegues: Sure, no happy to tell you more about myself and happy to be on this podcast we need today so much to say I’ll start with the fact that I came into my adult career as an engineer and left as an advocate, not something I originally planned, but as an engineer at IBM continuing my education for a terminal PhD at Harvard, I thought life was great. Until it wasn't and that came by way of a disease that I was born with I did not know that I was born with a brain condition, it was a malformation well I only found out about later went into brain surgery to fix it since I was told my brain would fall into my spinal column if I did it. Through brain surgery, I had the spinal cord injury I can't say if it was a nicker a seizure, but I walked into surgery, and never walked back out changed my whole career path left with a physical disability an intellectual.

Nadine Vogel: How old were you then?

Yvette Pegues: 30.

Nadine Vogel: And again, it impacted what? I’m sorry.

Yvette Pegues: So, I left with a physical disability, I was a full-time wheelchair user a spinal cord injury and cognitive and intellectual disability.

Nadine Vogel: Talk about change. In a nanosecond. Okay, Norma and I were talking about another episode how disability is a private club that anyone can join at any time.

Yvette Pegues: Absolutely and that's the conversation I have with most people who, much like myself, was innocently ignorant before being put in a position where disability was right in your face.

Norma: Absolutely. It happened to me when you know I had my daughter, and then it happened again in my late 40s when I was diagnosed with epilepsy, so I learned on both fronts.

Nadine Vogel: Absolutely so aside from the obvious how life changed in that nanosecond tell us about changes that we might not realize that took place for you.

Yvette Pegues: Sure, well the situational leadership presented itself, whereby I went from catatonic comatose nonverbal to you know what I’m going to get up and I’m going to live for my kids. And that was the pivot that I had to make at that point and that pivot allowed me to get up and be a role model to my then young boys. Who at the time we're getting bullied because mommy rolled around and on wheels and everybody else's mom was on feet, so there was a little bit of bullying there and I had all these appliances to hold me up. And, as a result of that those two little amazing people wanted to tell the story themselves, they felt like they needed to tell the story about living in a home where disability moved in without their permission. They were Okay, so they themselves put a couple of paintings together and turned out to be a published book called my mommy had brain surgery and I’m okay.

Nadine Vogel: Wow that is amazing it.

Yvette Pegues: It blew my mind, and it gave me the courage to be okay, because they didn't really, they couldn't tell they said, my life is still great my mommy is still here, you know my Daddy is still Daddy. They in that moment saw it through the lens of children, which I needed so l I got up, I think, at the time, I had to tell myself up right because I didn't have the core strength and I never laid down for more than eight hours again.

Nadine Vogel: Wow, we should be interviewing them, I want to know more about that book.

Yvette Pegues: Pretty amazing.

Norma Stanley: Awesome young men yeah.

Yvette Pegues: Well, they use it now to help others. So, it's I think it's at the children's hospital in Atlanta it's at the Shepherd Center it's at a lot of rehabilitative areas and Amazon.

Nadine Vogel: Well, we definitely need to follow up and interview them, I think I think that's the I think it's an important story to tell.

Norma Stanley: Absolutely.

Nadine Vogel: So, my understanding is that, as you need this transformation, you took on lots of new experience’s new roles, want to share some of that with us.

Yvette Pegues: I will, I will, as long as none of my engineering friends are listening. I was approached with an opportunity to participate in a wheelchair pageants so going from an engineer to pageant titleholder was not the coolest thing for me growing up, I was given two choices you either pretty or you're smart and can't be both. And what that did, for me, is it helped me understand that it's more than the beauty on the outside, it's the beauty on the inside and changing the image of disability that it's not detrimental that you've been live forward after a life changing event, so I started out as Miss Georgia. And I was able to serve as the first woman of color to hold the national miss wheelchair USA title. And then, finally, the first person ever to hold the Miss wheelchair international title and what that did, for me, is it gave me this broad spectrum of individuals who had never heard of the pageant. I got to travel the country in the world, and I got to be pretty and smart.

Nadine Vogel: Yeah, my hope is, and I haven't said this to many people, but wouldn’t be really cool if we didn't need two separate pageants, but it was you know just Miss America or miss.

Norma Stanley: Period. That’s right.

Nadine Vogel: And it doesn't matter if you walk in on two feet or you're rolling in or anything in between, you know that does that bother you Yvette at all, because it bothers me.

Yvette Pegues: I don't think that I knew enough about pageants to be bothered initially, but I will say that our talent at the time was our community service and the way that we serve individuals with disabilities and around us, whereby a typical pagent would require the bathing suit and a lot of singing and acrobatic talent, but we have had individuals within the miss wheelchair organization try out for the regional pagent and she did pretty well but.

Nadine Vogel: yeah, that’s how it should be so you know i'm a mom of two daughters i'm a special needs mom like like norma so you know I think this i'm like okay how do my girls become you. How do they grow up and become you, Norma you thinking that same thing?

Norma Stanley: Absolutely absolutely I mean Yvette it’s so inspiring to me the thing that i've seen her do you know skiing and I think you did some skydiving or something I don't know I can't keep up. You do golf. I mean, she has a way of finding opportunities to show. People how they can live fully while they are you know and whatever sport just about and and I think it's a beautiful thing and i'm excited because I would love to see her to do some of those things I don't know you know we just have to hang out with you a little bit more.

Nadine Vogel: So, Yvette how many sports do you play.

Yvette Pegues: I’m up to about 15 different adaptive sports.

Norma Stanley: wow.

Yvette Pegues: The first one, I did was ski hockey Ice Hockey with my kids and the way that happened was so amazing I was sick at the kids were going to an ice hockey birthday party.

Some strange guy came over to the passenger side and said, can I borrow your wife. Husband said excuse me. Popped me in my chair and low me onto the ice and he said will she fall and they said yes, she will but she's gonna get back up. i've been playing adaptive sports ever since i've been falling and i've been getting back up.

Norma Stanley: The one that you were skiing that was interesting how do they do that.

Yvette Pegues: So the snow skiing usually there's a six ski equipment anyone with mobility issues or lower paralysis would be sitting otherwise, but I still haven't used to upper mobility and it's it's not easy, but again I was able to do that at about 20 to 30,000 feet above sea level so was up pretty high.

Nadine Vogel: I can't do any of these things. I mean really I can’t, I've tried.

Yvette Pegues: Done tennis, basketball, gosh oh water ski gosh I can't even remember all of them jet ski a lot of really cool things in my relationship, allow me to crushed them so nascar's called me and said hey we have this new adapted vehicle we want you to try and. You know lots of really fun things and maybe it's my frontal cortex because i'm not as scared or afraid of things anymore so maybe some of that stuff went away with the brain injury.

Nadine Vogel: Well, fear definitely does get in the way of things, but i'll just tell you I took three months of golf lessons and at the end of the three months that the instructor said, you know what's your plan, I said I can't do this, and he said, thank God. So that gives you an idea.

Yvette Pegues: Golf is my favorite land sport and i've done some work with the PGA and we're definitely doing a lot here in Atlanta with adaptive sports and bringing individuals in and recognizing that golf is the most social sport out there I’ve met a lot of wonderful people on the golf course that I know I would have never otherwise cross paths with.

Nadine Vogel: Now, do you play golf or do these sports with other folks that are doing adaptive versions, or is it mixed

Yvette Pegues: it's about inclusion, you know it's not about just me having a day with people who look like me, which is not a bad thing, but for the most part 90% of the time, what I do is what everybody else is doing it just you know different equipment.

Nadine Vogel: Well, as sounds like it sounds like you know the things, you're doing are giving you platforms to do more. But on the other side, it sounds like you're getting platforms that are digging into the next level so it's a combination of the two, but I would love to just hear how one influences the other.

Yvette Pegues: Sure, so I really do believe adaptive sports is a form of advocacy and activism by physically doing it and doing it publicly and doing it boldly because I have gotten kicked out of some golf courses and I believe that's where the activism comes in and the advocacy comes in, by showing that individual and forcing them to let me in. If I pay my money, if I have my equipment that may have to let me in and a lot of times they don't expect anyone to show up so when they have equipment it's not even charged, they're working and so, if I go there enough. You know they'll be tired of my big mouth, but I believe that the way that they intersect number one is by showing up inviting others to always be kind and visible and to try new things with the expectation of success and meeting people along the way and inviting them into this movement of inclusion it's not just about diversity equity it's also about belonging so if you're doing the diversity equity and inclusion, you should naturally end up in a place where everyone feels like they belong. So that's the goal, not just one or the other but the trifecta leading into an individual feeling connected in some way.

Nadine Vogel: Right, well then, it sounds to me like when you talk about advocacy it equates to education, absolutely yes that's good it sounds like that's and that's the basis, because we have to educate people have biases, I think they know them they think they don't. They just don’t own them right. I think that education is really, really critical and I love what you said about you know they may have the equipment, but they don't expect anyone to come and use it.

Yvette Pegues: Exactly that's not inclusion that's preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Nadine Vogel: Absolutely, yes, we need diversity is about you know, inviting someone to your party inclusion is asking them to dance.

Yvette Pegues: That’s right.

Nadine Vogel: Better yet, ask them what their favorite song is.

Yvette Pegues: Yeah, that helps.

Nadine Vogel: Right absolutely so.

Norma Stanley: that's the thing when they have situations like that in the entertainment field in the hospitality areas and places like that a lot of these places. No, they don't have an opportunity to show how they are really including us, because in many times when we do go to those places, we find out that they're really not ready. For us, you know there's some restaurants here in Atlanta I’m a foodie I go to I’m not going to mess around so at least I used to before everything went crazy, but you know there's one that I used to like to go to my daughter is in a wheelchair and had to take it to the bathroom but the bathroom upstairs elevator. Well, how.

Nadine Vogel: Or their using the bathroom as a storage facility.

Yvette Pegues: Oh, my god.

Yvette Pegues: chairs, in the cubby on the way.

Nadine Vogel: Highchairs the others chair when you say some new look at you have four heads. Oh well, we are needing to go ahead and go to commercial break, so we come back, we Norma I are going to be talking again with Yvette Pegasus and just see the incredible life she's leading and in the ways that she is educating and advocating for people with disabilities, because, as we all know, disabled lives matter.

Nadine Vogel: Disability Matters 2021! It is Springboard’s15th anniversary so we’re going to celebrate in a big way with all of our speakers our honorees and especially our keynote speakers David Renaud on Day 1 and Chris Downing on Day 2 these two are amazing gentleman one wheelchair who has just rocked the world of Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a writer and a producer of the good doctor among many other shows and then there’s Chris Downing who is such a successful architect but who also happens to be blind please join us www.consultspringboard.com and register today it will be a virtual conference once again due to Covid but nonetheless you will enjoy learn and he will be inspired we can’t wait to see you there, bye-bye!

Voiceover: And now, back to our show.

Nadine Vogel: Now this is Nadine Vogel your host of disabled lives matter and we are being joined once again with my co-host Norma Stanley and our guest Yvette Pegasus so Norma why don't you take it away.

Norma Stanley: Well, you know we've been having such a great conversation with Yvette, but one of the things I was hoping, she would touch on is, as we are part of you know, this month is women's history month and I just wanted to see what she thought about women with disabilities and how some of us that are exceeding but not getting the recognition for the contributions that they're making what would you say to that, and how can we, you know help companies and people to understand that you know, these people are you, leaving behind amazing people that that can bring all kinds of value to you.

Yvette Pegues: It's a really good question, and thank you for asking, and I know you know this because of all of your marketing experience, but when I have to sit before corporate and have the conversation about access and everything that we need, and why we need it most of the answers that I give, of course, depending on the table are the stats you know people love numbers and we talked about the 6 million people in the country, who have disabilities, a one out of every four we talk about the $8 billion dollars’ worth of progress and financial support that can be added to your business like if this is a business where you serve people one in four have a disability, we have $8 billion to spend. And access is a huge return on investment, and I say that not just for people on the outside coming in, but because I have an engineering degree, I have that conversation specifically around development. There's a saying in our Community that I’m sure you're both very familiar with, but I'll say it for the podcast and this movement that you're creating. Nothing about us without us. You are creating something whether you're building a building or a program or an app you need to have someone on your team. In house or outhouse didn't come out right, but you know what I mean. The inside or the outside, to make sure that that individual is helping you to create and invite and retain individuals with disabilities, there's three of us on this call today, but if there was one more at least one of us would be disabled, if you look at that to illness accident and to aging, which we will all meet at some time either temporarily or permanently, you can see the breadth and the depth of what this Community means and how do we make that clear, well, we keep doing what we're doing. I think a long time ago I stopped trying to prove to others. And made myself my biggest advocate, so I can self-advocate and I’m the person that I compete with the most and if you do that publicly and if you do that humbly and if you do that. With this silence strength, I think you will be on this podcast you know you'll be invited to do things with other wonderful people who are doing wonderful things so for me to answer your question again is to connect. To create and to always bring Community and to what you do and I’ll say this, and I had to say this before I said I don't want to just hold the door open for the next person with a disability to come in behind me, I want to take it off the hinges so no one else has a fight as hard as I fought and have to you know push as hard as I push because that's our responsibility as the Community that we need to leave better than without.

Norma Stanley: Absolutely

Nadine Vogel: Do you think it's your different or harder for disabled women of color.

Yvette Pegues: Absolutely my intersections are on the fray right as a woman of color with a disability. The expectation is so low; I have to say I’m excited about that because you know that if I come in with a low expectation, I know I’m going to meet and beat your expectation of me so again, some people take it personally people have to be very careful with the language that they speak in those settings and be the example with that language, and also to break barriers and that That to me is as exciting as it is that.

Nadine Vogel: Absolutely, the fact that we have to do it right, I always say you know, have we not learned from history right, I mean oh my gosh Look how many things as a country we have gone through over the years. It doesn't seem like we learned from any of it, we just keep repeating it just with a different name.

Norma Stanley: Definition of insanity.

Yvette Pegues: You're absolutely right about that.

Nadine Vogel: I find that so frustrating, but it is what it is right. I’m almost afraid to ask this Yvette, but can you tell us what the day in the life is like for you like, what is it you are doing now, because you do so much, and I believe you only have the same 24 hours we do. Perhaps not perhaps you went out.

Yvette Pegues: I think I have less like you so um your invisible disability group is an organization that we started right to equip and empower and invite and include individuals with disabilities, so that organization itself takes a lot of time we have a small but mighty organization with interns and a lot of individuals with disabilities who helped to provide a navigation, so our product is our service to help individuals with disabilities get a 80% yes rate, which means a newly injured or diagnose individual will pick up the phone and get eight out of 10 yeses instead of the common two out of 10 yeses, why? because, because we can pop them into our little algorithm see where they live, what they need connect those two together so that they don't have the issue of your no more than a hear, yes, and that navigation keeps us pretty busy.

Nadine Vogel: And how do people find out about that organization.

Yvette Pegues: Well, I’m at your invisible disability.com I’m online, and you can Google me. Unfortunately, my kids google me often but the yvettepegues.com is information that I can use, I have been able to connect people in Africa to wheelchairs in America. That is the navigation power and cabin relationships that we also have in sometimes they can even say Yvette sent me and hopefully that'll break some barriers and get through some. Some great some gate threats and gatekeepers that's part of what I do, besides being a mom and besides being a wife, I am also working on my final degree my doctoral thesis is what I spend the next part of my day with so I’m actually writing my dissertation on individuals with disabilities who are creating access within the church and on mission trips because. No one wants to take someone with a disability, out of the country without liability and so I’m breaking down those barriers, because I’ve taken my kids to the Dominican Republic in my wheelchair, and our next trip is in Japan during the Summer Olympics.

Nadine Vogel: You know I went my older daughter wanted to go on a trip, it was a three-week trip to Israel. A few summers ago, and she was trying to join with an organization of religious organization that would go. And, in the end they helped her, but wow and she have to fight and advocate to get the support to get what she needed it oh my gosh it just shouldn't have been that difficult but it was.

Norma Stanley: That’s the reality and that's one of the things that I’m hoping that we can make. Some changes in regard to travel in general, because, like I said I’d love to take my daughter to everyone has enough to take a year, but I know there's some issues there with the cobbled streets in places like Italy, and you know, so you know. The Caribbean, I’m from the Caribbean, and the streets are so tiny you can barely get a wheelchair around those things so there's so much that needs to be changed, and I don't know these people are so many people willing to change them because you know they just. I don't know it's been sad because, generally, the people with disabilities, they just got put away, they didn't get a chance to live and do things like everybody else did. That all in the past.

Yvette Pegues: So much has changed and there's so many disability travel agencies happy to put you in touch with because they also do travel groups. They also do a lot of blogs, so that you can see for yourself that should not be the case, in fact I know everyone on this call feels like, hopefully, in the next 10 15 20 years we don't have to have this conversation you can look back and say well. Did they really exclude us.

Nadine Vogel: Right, you know I used to work with SAP the Society for accessible travel and hospitality and your organization others and I’m always amazed by the challenges around traveling and like you Norma, I always wanted my girls to travel with us and they have been too I can't tell you how many countries from China to Italy, I mean all over but, it always required very specific planning advanced planning and advanced planning for things that were going to go wrong, because you knew they would. Be prepared for that so in the in the few minutes we have left, I do have one question specifically, I would like to ask you if you don't mind Yvette, which is so my company's Springboard we work with corporations around the world. We work with them to mainstream people with disabilities, disability inclusion at every level candidate employee customer. You know what would your advice be if you're talking to a global corporate CEO or one of their executives around disability inclusion, from the perspective of someone who is smart successful and happens to have a disability.

Yvette Pegues: Great question, I personally think that we are all smart and exceptional we all have our superpowers and if anyone would take the time to look deeper or allow us to present it to them, they see it, and what I would tell corporate America is COVID, it would be a single word that makes our crazy looks normal because, for those of us who have been advocating for infrastructure change so that we can have a zoom call or work from home. And so many of the other things that we as individuals’ disabilities already deal with that the world is now dealing with isolation and having groceries deliver and having to wear a mask and having to connect online and remotely this is now how we live. The future is that I’ve been working with have talked about this for the last 10 years flattening what corporate looks like. Because if they want their business to continue, they need to recognize that this new generation of workers don't care what your title is they don't really care how much you pay them. They care that you're a company that cares that you're putting in as much as your taking out, and that you are inclusive, because there are so many changes going on in the world. And if you're not ready to accept and empower and support those changes in the workplace, I don't really want to work with you, I don't want to be associated with you and I want to be on the right side of history where inclusion is normal.

Nadine Vogel: Right, you know, when you say that my concern and I hope it's only my concern and it's not reality is that we don't find organizations, having short memories. When covid is finally passing and it will eventually and. The things go back in some ways to the way they were and they say oh good now can everyone back in the office no we can't have working from home like I just hope because, when we look at history, and we look at so many other issues societal issues, we find that people have short memories.

Norma Stanley: Absolutely and that's one of the things we have to really be aware of and prepare for the same way, they have short memories when it comes to black lives and what black people have contributed to society from the beginning of US history, and so we have to make sure is that it's going to take the people, continuing to advocate and activate change.

Yvette Pegues: I heard someone explained black lives matter like a husband saying to his life I love you and she response, of course, you love me you marry me. We have to hear it often you have to know that your life matters with everything that happens around you whether you're black or disabled or you have other needs civil rights needs that are not being recognized but Nadine, this is where we hold our companies accountable by not just raising their hands in solidarity but putting it in writing and changing policy I don't want favors I want policy and so as we put those policies in place and we push back. We know that, unless you change your policy because you said it out loud that accountability is in place there's never been a situation such as what removing where there's this global and racial pandemic and companies understand that if they don't change now, they won't have it tomorrow, so. Through that change and through those commitments, we can now hold them accountable, because we have it in writing on TV in their mission or vision and again this creates these footprints that we can go back and step into to make sure that they're headed in the right direction.

Nadine Vogel: And so, we can only hope with this disabled lives matter podcast that we add to that and we add to them owning this and committing to it, and not just the usual check the box from a compliance standpoint. But really being committed and realizing that people with disabilities are people first that's right please with families with experiences with skills and that, at the end of the day, disabled lives do matter and it matters to everyone, not just people with disabilities.

Yvette Pegues: And you know, because we are all one and I love what you're doing this podcast will be evergreen and we can play it back for those who forgot and ended up on the right side of the wrong side of history will put them back on the right side, so thank you, thank you for this media that you're creating this movement that you're supporting and the blessing of opportunity it's going to be on the podcast today.

Nadine Vogel: Yvette, thank you so much, this is amazing talking with you Norma, thank you for joining me on this journey as always. And this is Nadine Vogel closing out this episode of disabled lives matter, we look forward to seeing you on the radio I guess is what they used to say right next week bye-bye everybody.

Norma Stanley: bye-bye be blessed.

Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed during the Disabled Lives Matter podcast series are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Springboard Global Enterprises, Springboard Productions, and its employees, contractors, subsidiaries, and affiliates. The developers of the Disabled Lives Matter podcast are not responsible and do not verify for accuracy any of the information contained in the podcast series available for listening on the Podbean hosting site and/or any other associated hosting entity. The Primary purpose of this series is to educate and inform, and does not constitute disability, medical and/or other professional advise and/or service(s). This podcast is available for private, non-commercial use only. Advertising incorporated into, in association with, or targeted toward the content of this podcast, without the express approval and knowledge of the Disabled Lives Matter's site developers is forbidden. You may not edit, modify, or redistribute this podcast. The developers of the Disabled Lives Matter site assume no liability for any activities in connection with this podcast or for use of this podcast in connection with any other Website, Computer, and/or Listen Device.

52 episodes