Location: Huntingdon, PA, United States
- Issues Areas:
- Dis/ability Justice
Campus: Juniata College - Huntingdon, PA
Fellowship Class Year: 2008
Blueprint: We Connect Now
In 2008, YP4 Fellow Gabriela McCall-Delgado decided to develop a website to assist college students with disabilities as a Blueprint for Social Justice call We Connect Now. The website is still operating and has received over 250,000 views to date and has been used as a resource by people in 171 different countries. We Connect Now is dedicated to uniting people interested in rights and issues affecting people with disabilities, with particular emphasis on college students and access to higher education and employment issues. One of the goals of this site is to help college students with disabilities to succeed in their studies by getting the information and support they need, both through resources, links, blogs latest news, studying existing laws and regulation and through personal contacts. Through this website people can also share and read other people’s stories as a source of support and comfort. We also want people using our webpage to take action by writing blogs, hosting an event or becoming involved in politics by knowing about upcoming legislation. Also, every month the site focuses on a particular disability or condition to bring our visitors more information and support related to our focus of the month. Through their jobs section, the site also helps empower people with disabilities find employment through job posting and job searching tips, and if people have any questions we encourage them to contact us. The goal of this site is that people leave it having gained knowledge, a support system and having taken action.
Featured Fellow Spotlight
YP4: Gabriela will you tell me what you stand for?
Gabriela: I stand for civil rights, especially for the rights of people with disabilities, for a more just society.
YP4: Can you tell me how you came to be a part of yp4?
Gabriela: I was looking for funding for projects, and I came across a link for YP4. I was a Fellow during my freshman year.
YP4: What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Gabriela: I think getting my idea, my blueprint, into action. Building my website to where 50,000 people have seen; it is raising awareness, people are getting educated, when I started I never thought so many people would see it.
YP4: In your work what motivates and inspires you?
Gabriela: Emails from people that have this or that issue, how they are getting help, like with public transit, getting people to people who need help. My site helps them learn more about their rights. When people ask for help or give positive feedback. It’s the work of people helping other people.
YP4: What is your one main life goal that you want to accomplish?
Gabriela: My life goal is to work for a more just society, to be happy and live a balanced life.
YP4: Tell me about your work. That you are doing right now
Gabriela: In 2008 I started my organization that is a website that serves college students with disabilities. There is a section on laws, a focus of the month, updated news and events, what people can do and a social media component. We now have three campus chapters in New York, Illinois, and North Carolina.
YP4: What is a struggle that you’ve faced or are facing in your work?
Gabriela: In the beginning it was hard creating the website, I’m not tech savvy. I had an idea but didn’t know where to start. In the beginning a struggle was getting listed on other sites. The first person to list it, was the “traveling wheel chair blog”, and it grew from there.
YP4: What advice do you have for others who may be dealing with those same struggles?
Gabriela: Stick with it, it’s not going to be very successful in the beginning. It’s good to keep in touch with the other fellows you meet. Facebook is good at keeping in touch with people and that helps move projects. Don’t worry about taking a while to get off the ground; if your project takes a little bit longer don’t get frustrated.
Go to the conference (National Summit), try to keep track of people you meet, have fun in DC. If you make your project too much of a burden, you aren’t going to stick with it. It’s like cross country, you have to think of project like a long term thing. It’s ok to take a day off.
YP4: How can other Fellows get involved or find more information about the work you’re doing?
Gabriela: Like us on Twitter and Facebook, and email me if they want to write a blog, or submit a video or if they would be interested in starting a chapter. And visit our site: Weconnectnow.wordpress.com
YP4: What advice would you give to the incoming class of Fellows?
Gabriela: One thing I didn’t think of in the beginning is trying to get media attention, use social media, you get a different audience.
YP4: If every time you entered a room your theme song played, what would it be and why?
Gabriela: Helen Reddy’s, “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar”. It’s a great song! It talks about empowering, and not just the individual. That wisdom comes with pain, when working on projects learn what works and doesn’t work. When I first started I wanted the large big disability non-profits to list my website, but they didn’t. I learned that I had to start small but think big.