Anchored understanding comes about with first-hand knowledge and cognitive learning about another culture. Lately, I have been especially focused on gaining anchored understanding on the culture of people with disabilities due to my involvement in the IL LEND program.  A group of us from the LEND program volunteered for the athletes with disabilities crew at the Chicago Marathon earlier this month, which continued to deepen my anchored understanding of the culture of those living with disability.   First off, many of these athletes are paraolympians—yes, paraOLYMPIANS.  Not only have they represented our country around the world, but they also have the super cool US Olympian team jackets (that I am super jealous of) to prove it.  Each one of these athletes, even the ones who aren’t at the “Olympic level,” are strong, fast, determined, witty, and fun loving.  Despite their disability, they are living life to the fullest and taking advantage of every moment. Even though my experience with LEND has taught me this shouldn’t be surprising, it was a good reminder for me as a future clinician working with, and encouraging, people with disabilities—I’ve seen first-hand that their abilities can be limitless.

Sarah Sternasty, Kristina Parro, and Briana Bonner at the Chicago Marathon