Making history Erin ‘Bionic’ Brown is changing the narrative internationally for women and the disabled community. Losing her mother and her closest cousin to cancer and hearing the news that she too had cancer and would need her leg amputated, Erin Brown went from worrier to warrior. She is now an internationally recognized disability inclusion consultant and ambassador who has presented to the United Nations, World Health Organization, and Pan American Health Organization as an International Disability Inclusion Consultant for the Caribbean.
Creating a movement to empower people facing cancer and living with disabilities, from paralympic development to disability rights she is making history. Brown’s tremendous contributions were recognized by Royal Caribbean Cruise International (RCCI), and in 2021 she made history as she was named the first Bahamian, para-triathlete, and Black woman with a disability named Godmother of Odyssey of the Seas. Speaking to this amazing woman via Q&A – Brown shares her feelings about being an inspiration and more:
How does it feel to be an inspiration to so many individuals internationally?
It is unexpected and a surreal feeling, as I am inspired by the many individuals internationally that remind me to remain authentic to the process, therefore, keeping me motivated and fueled to show up as my best self.
What keeps you motivated and inspired?
The reality is that everything is possible. Being an island gal comes with certain freedoms such as focusing on the beauty around you versus comparing what everyone else is doing. My heritage gives me an unspoken drive to be more than what is presented around me. My cancer journey revealed a strength that I honor every day I have breath. I have learned to embrace the unknown with the austerity that what is needed will be provided, even if I fall.
What advice would you give to someone who is unsure about pursuing their dreams?
Do not fear failure, it is a part of the process of growth and success. Accept the ‘no’ as they will fuel your future. Your dreams are necessary for a sustainable future that needs YOU. Your voice, your presence and your action.
How do you want your story to be received?
My story deserves to be heard, acknowledged and shared. The way it is received is a personal journey, in my humble opinion. There will be parts of my journey that may invoke despair, parts that trigger self-reflection and other parts that stir untouched areas of the psyche to be more than you have been told. Yet, through it all, it is my hope that whatever you need at that moment of my lived experiences you receive what is needed to turn it into fuel and ACTION!
What impact are you looking to make?
I am looking to live! Live loudly, in color and obsessively every day! I am learning every day that the impact made, has been beyond my intentional implementation. It speaks more about my purpose that is being revealed in each moment my story is shared, my presence is felt or my voice is amplified. Ultimately, my desire is to give someone the ability to recognize their value through me and know they belong too.
What changes do you feel are needed for a more inclusive community?
Recognizing that inclusion ensures sustainability, innovation, and creativity are by-products of being accessible and inclusive in your way of thinking.
The narrative of inclusion should be one that removes barriers, and increases opportunities for the diverse voices, messaging, and implementation that only true access can offer. It is a ‘we’ narrative. Disability has been seen as a separate and apart issue when it is an intersectional purpose-filled journey that if we continue to disregard this part of our identity it will be the dismissal of us all. Disability is not a bad word!
For those who are unfamiliar can you explain paralympic development?
Paralympic development defines the space and process of athletes with disabilities to increase access and inclusion in training, compliance, resources, support and opportunities to compete and/or participate in physical activities, elite competition and personal development. One of the benefits of paralympic development is the ability to participate in the establishment of a country’s Paralympic Committee, and qualify for International Paralympic Games held every four years.
Do you feel that disability rights have changed over the past few years?
Yes, disability rights have changed and continue to do so with each passing moment. As the years pass, approximately 15% of the world’s population, over one billion people, are living with disabilities increases each year. Therefore, if the focus remains on creating separate spaces rather than health equity, inclusive education, accessible climate change mechanisms, integrating disaster and emergency preparedness, relief and recovery, implementation of inclusive policies and hiring practices, or even utilizing disaggregated data collection the only change that will be felt is foreseeable death of a planet, people and opportunities to thrive.
What can we expect from you in the future?
The journey of becoming a disability rights attorney is definitely one that can be expected in the future. As a disability inclusion consultant, Erin Brown Connects
, disability advocacy and inclusion management at this time, the focus is on training and empowering people with disabilities and our non-disabled allies to work together in creating more accessible and inclusive spaces to expand the opportunities for people with disabilities. As the first para triathlete, Erin Bionic Brown for The Bahamas the paralympic development movement is a necessary step to establishing access for athletes with disabilities through movement. Fundamentally this is inclusive of paralympic development, inclusive education, entrepreneurial access, and health equity which impacts a nation’s ability to remain sustainable for years to come.
Find out more about Erin Brown Connects, Disability Advocacy, and Inclusion Management by visiting www.erinbrownconnects.com)