Latino dis­abil­ity event bridges cul­tural di­vides

2nd an­nual sum­mit of­fers re­sources and fel­low­ship


Roughly 200 mem­bers of the Latino dis­abil­ity com­mu­nity gath­ered Satur­day for fel­low­ship and sup­port at the sec­ond an­nual Latino Dis­abil­ity Sum­mit and Re­source Fair.

The event was held at Abil­ity360, a fully ac­ces­si­ble fa­cil­ity in Phoenix that ad­vo­cates for in­de­pen­dence for in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties.

The fair was de­signed last year to help bring peo­ple to­gether, to show them that they are not alone and that dis­abil­i­ties are not some­thing to be ashamed of.

Re­beca Cavazos, fair co-chair, ex­plained that in the Latino com­mu­nity, it is a com­mon be­lief that dis­abil­i­ties are a pun­ish­ment from God for some big sin. Of­ten­times, she said, peo­ple will take care of their loved ones with dis­abil­i­ties be­hind closed doors, which can be over­whelm­ing.

“We want peo­ple to know that they are not alone,” Cavazos said. “We had over 70 or­ga­ni­za­tions here to­day with re­sources to help peo­ple, and that’s not all of them.”

Cavazos said the event didn’t see quite as many peo­ple as ex­pected, but she was happy with the over­all turnout.

“There are a lot of dif­fer­ent is­sues af­fect­ing the Latino com­mu­nity right now, so it’s hard to get too much at­ten­tion fo­cused on one thing,” Cavazos said. “This is some­thing that will take time, but we’re happy.”

Juliana Huerena was at the event rep­re­sent­ing the South­west In­sti­tute for Fam­i­lies and Chil­dren. She said she loved be­ing able to help con­nect peo­ple with re­sources they never knew were avail­able.

“A lot of peo­ple didn’t know that th­ese re­sources ex­isted,” Huerena said. “It’s great to be able to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to peo­ple who need it.”

Huerena said it breaks her heart to see how tax­ing it can be on a per­son to be fully re­spon­si­ble for a loved one with a dis­abil­ity. That’s why she thinks it is so im­por­tant to have events like this one to raise aware­ness.

“Lots of fam­i­lies take care of their own and feel like they can never take a break, but we want them to know that they’re not alone and we’re here to help,” she said.

Mar­cos Castillo at­tended the event as a par­tic­i­pant last year, voiced some con­cerns he had, and was in­vited to help plan this year’s fair.

He said he was thrilled with the op­por­tu­nity to help bridge the gaps be­tween the Latino and dis­abil­ity com­mu­ni­ties.

As im­por­tant as he thinks it is to help con­nect peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to re­sources that can help them, Castillo said he thinks it is equally as im­por­tant to work to change the way peo­ple with­out dis­abil­i­ties view the dis­abil­ity com­mu­nity.

“We’re not spe­cial. We’re not an in­spi­ra­tion. We’re nor­mal,” Castillo said. “You’re born, you die, and if you’re lucky, you won’t get a dis­abil­ity in the mid­dle. But the odds are, you prob­a­bly will.”

Any­one with dis­abil­i­ties — as well as their loved ones with­out — is wel­come at Abil­ity360, lo­cated at 5025 E. Washington St. in Phoenix. It is open ev­ery day but Sun­day.

Any­one with ques­tions about Abil­ity360 or other re­sources for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties can call 602-256-2245 or visit abil­

“Lots of fam­i­lies take care of their own and feel like they can never take a break, but we want them to know that they’re not alone and we’re here to help.” JULIANA HUERENA REP­RE­SENTED THE SOUTH­WEST IN­STI­TUTE FOR FAM­I­LIES AND CHIL­DREN AT THE EVENT

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