Eakin Passionate About Advocacy and Adaptive Recreation
Updated: Jun 7, 2021
"About Us" is a series of interviews with accomplished self-advocates in Florida.
Lauren Eakin is a member of FL SAND’s Clay County Changemakers and an active member of the Orange Park Community.
She loves to write and is currently working on a book. Additionally, Lauren enjoys working with her adaptive personal trainer. Self-advocacy has become a passion for Lauren and she has used her voice to educate others in a variety of ways, including about the importance of adaptive recreational equipment for wheelchair users in public parks. Lauren’s advocacy efforts even caught the attention of her mayor when she spoke out about the misuse of equipment in a community park. FSA Central is grateful to Lauren for sharing her thoughts with us.
Question: When did you start to identify as a self-advocate and why?
Lauren: I started to identify as an advocate when I joined the Clay County Changemakers and want to be a voice for others that may not have as easy a time using their own.
Question: What is your funniest disability related story? Lauren: In junior high, I had a friend who was also in a wheelchair and once, we hooked our wheelchairs together to have her pull me. In the end, my chair tipped. Not such a funny story at the time but looking back now it is.
Question: What advocacy related issue is of the most significance to you?
Lauren: I’d like to see more adaptive recreation and playground equipment become easily available.
Question: Can you share a time when your disability inspired a behavior or comment you found particularly obnoxious?
Lauren: The one that most stands out is during high school when a classmate didn’t think I should be mainstreamed, and assumed my aide was giving me answers because I had good grades.
Question: Can you name a time in which a behavior or comment inspired by your disability made you feel valued or understood? Lauren: I feel like I can most be myself when I am with the Changemakers or other people with disabilities.
Question: In 10 years, what would you most like to see change in the lives of persons with disabilities?
Lauren: More accessible and universal design-based housing options. Accessibility shouldn’t be something we have to ask for.
Question: Who or what has most inspired your advocacy journey?
Lauren: My friend Bri, who is nonverbal and communicates with her eyes.
Question: What unique strengths have your disability given you or contributed to? Lauren: My disability has made me more forthcoming and open. I want people without disabilities to see that people with disabilities are in their communities, and that they don’t have to be afraid of us.
Question: Can you share a product, way to complete a task, or life hack that has made life with a disability easier? Lauren: I put dog toy ropes on doors to make them easier to pull open, and also use my grabber to reach things that I drop or are at higher levels.
Question: If you could pick one song as your theme song, what would you choose?
Lauren: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cindy Lauper
The FSACentral staff would like to thank Lauren for taking the time to participate in the interview. Let us know what you think about "About Us" on Facebook! If you know an accomplished self-advocate in Florida you think we should showcase in "About Us," contact us here or via Facebook.