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Voices from the Movement: Crystal Williams writes about surviving the COVID-19 Pandemic

Alone Together
Photo courtesy of Lucia Macedo via unsplash
June 15, 2021

Everyone thought that 2020 was going to be a great year but unfortunately, 2020 had other plans for all of us. The past year has been a very difficult one, for everyone. When COVID-19 first started, we were not too sure how bad it was going to be but then things started getting worse and worse. Being unable to see family and friends has been very hard. Having to socially distance, wearing our masks, washing our hands constantly throughout the day and using hand sanitizer in every store you go in before you can do your shopping has been a huge adjustment for everybody. I know that this pandemic has been very hard on everybody, especially on the most vulnerable people like seniors and individuals who have intellectual disabilities. As an individual with an intellectual disability myself, I know first-hand the struggles my community has faced during this challenging time. A lot of us count on engaging with our communities, going to day programs and participating in Special Olympics sports programs as a way to be active and socialize with friends.

For some, participating in Special Olympics sports is the only way to interact with other people and for others, their day programs are their only outing of the day, making social isolation a very real concern. With the temporary closing of in-person Special Olympics Programs and having day programs limit how many participants can attend, it’s been hard to adjust and find where we belong.

For some individuals who have intellectual disabilities the pandemic has made it hard because they are used to giving hugs, high fives and also are more comfortable talking to others in person. With the shift to virtual, the loss of human connection is felt much more. I have found not only for myself, but also for my fellow community of people who have intellectual disabilities, a feeling of isolation because our whole world has been turned upside down. We are feeling sad and depressed because we have no idea when things will return to normal for us and everyone struggling through this pandemic.

Now that it has been over a year, everyone has been getting used to the new normal, hoping that this pandemic will come to an end soon. At the beginning of 2021 here in Canada, the government finally announced that there is a vaccine for everyone. While the roll out has been confusing at times, there is reassurance that every Canadian will have the opportunity to receive a vaccine, if they want it. Everyone has been patiently waiting for their turn to get vaccinated, so that hopefully we can get back to normal again. It certainly has been giving everyone peace of mind knowing that once they get fully vaccinated things will be better and everyone won’t have to worry as much and everyone can go back to living life.