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Advocate Profile: Ana Kohout

Ana Kohout is dressed in her team swimsuit, with a large smile, poolside in her wheelchair

D: What is your favorite way to pass time? A: Hanging out with friends and family, swimming, and playing sled hockey.

D: What is something people generally don’t know about you? A: How much disability advocacy matters to me. I hope to change the way society thinks about disability.

D: Who is Ana? A: Student, swimmer, sled hockey player, future educator, Education & Youth studies and disability studies double major.

D: What gets your fired up about the disability movement? A: The social model, the fact that disability is socially constructed and that people are starting to realize that the negative connotations that exist about disability were made up by societal norms.

D: What barriers or challenges do you face in this movement? A: People viewing me as inspirational just because I am a disabled athlete. There is nothing special about me doing the sport I love. I hate the fact that people only focus on my disabilities and feel sympathy for them. My disability is one of my identities and I'm proud of that. It frustrates me when people don't see that it is something to be proud of, as opposed to something to overcome.

D: What do you want those who do not identify with disability to know? A: Constantly having people point out the negative parts of my disability gets exhausting because the reality is I don't view it that way. I don't want your pity, I love my disability. Being different is a beautiful thing because we are all different and we need to embrace that.

D: What areas are you still growing/hope to grow? Personally? Professionally? A: I hope to become more vocal as a disability advocate in the future and continue studying disability studies in grad school.

D: Who was the person/role model who inspired you to look into disability advocacy? Why/how did they inspire you? A: Honestly, Nicole Kelly has been one of my inspirations. I greatly admire the way she is able to express herself and the social barriers she faces living with a disability. She is able to express the way I have felt about things for years now and just didn't know how to. I hope to do the same some day.

D: When people look at you/up to you, what do you hope they see? A: I hope they see someone who is proud of who they are.

D: What are your next steps? A: I hope to help run the disability club at my college next semester and promote disability advocacy at my school.

D: How do we follow you?! Instagram: @a.k.a.ana

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