Ruth Gowitzke News Editor
On Jan. 28, at 2 p.m., senior, track and cross-country runner Samara Johnson, was awarded the Hartford Healthcare Connecticut Courage Award. This award, according to hartfordhealthcare.org, is given to students who, “demonstrate courage in the face of adversary.”
Johnson has multiple disabilities which include leaky gut syndrome, which makes it hard for her body to produce cortisol. Cortisol is a component that helps to give you energy. She also has a depth perception tracking disorder and a condition called, “tip toe walking.” The depth perception tracking disorder has not allowed her to drive, and her condition required her to wear leg braces when she was younger.
Despite the challenges that she has faced, Johnson has been able to become quite successful in her time here at Eastern. She has participated in the Little East Conference and has been a part of the Diversability Club, brings more awareness to students about disabilities and advocates for all disabilities, whether they are visible or invisible. Be sure to check out this club, which meets on Tuesdays at 11 a.m.. Outside of school, Johnson has also participated in a half marathon.
However, Johnson does not want people to think that these disabilities are something that she had to overcome. They are something that are a part of her, that she isn’t ashamed of.
She highlights in her speech how having a disability in our society can cause an array of different issues because of where our society has placed it. She said, “People with disabilities are more likely to face employment discrimination. In many states, it is still legal to pay a person with a disability sub-minimum wage. Connecticut is one of these states.” She also discusses how even children with disabilities have been discriminated against at their own schools and how domestic violence shelters are not accessible to people with disabilities.
In the last few seconds of her acceptance speech, she delivered a powerful final statement. “Disability isn’t a choice, but disability discrimination is; and we as a society, can always work to overcome that. Disability is diversity, disability justice is social justice, disability rights are human rights.”
Johnson will be graduating this May, with a degree in Social Work and will continue to graduate school in the fall to pursue her Master’s degree.