July is Disability Pride Month, and that means it’s a time to shine a positive and important light on the lives of those who live with disabilities, visible and invisible. As a society, it’s our responsibility to give disabled people not only advocacy, but a voice and platform that allows them to tell the world that they exist, their rights matter, and they are not to be feared or discriminated against. All too often, members of the disability community face uphill battles, inequities, and barriers in their lives, and we must continue the work that leads to a more accessible and accepting space.
Open Bionics is proud to amplify voices of the disabled community. One such young voice is Elisa Ferreira, who just recently received her first prosthesis, the Hero Arm. Elisa is 8 years old and from Georgia. Open Bionics’ own Lucas Slusher spoke with Elisa and her mother Nathalie about their experience and journey with limb difference.
Q (Lucas): Elisa it is so wonderful to finally speak to you, we are very excited to get to know more about you. Can you share with us your hobbies and what you like to do in your free time?
A (Elisa): I really like drawing pictures at school, dancing, playing outside and on my tablet. I’ve been in Girl Scouts for 3 years, since kindergarten, and this is my 2nd year as a Brownie.
Q (Lucas): What are your favorite things about being in Girl Scouts?
A (Elisa): I love going camping with the other girls and roasting marshmallows to make s’mores and making projects. My latest project was a drawer!
Q (Lucas): That sounds like so much fun! Let’s talk a bit about your limb difference. Were you born without your arm? How have interactions been while you’ve been in school and Girl Scouts? Do you get a lot of questions?
A (Elisa): I was born this way, and I do get questions about it but I answer that I was just born this way and people are okay with that. Sometimes I get a lot of questions and I just want them to stop but people are nice!
Q (Lucas): I’m glad people are nice! Have you ever used a prosthesis before or is the Hero Arm the first you’ve used?
A (Elisa): No, the Hero Arm is my very first prosthesis!
A (Nathalie): We found Open Bionics through Instagram and signed up interest and then made an appointment to go to Denver to meet with Elise, the Open Bionics prosthetist there.
Q (Lucas): How was the clinic and fitting experience in Denver with Elise?
A (Nathalie): The process was so smooth, so fast. In a good way. Elise was easy to work with and made the experience easy for both of us. She was able to answer all our questions.
Q (Lucas): What has been your favorite thing about your Hero Arm so far?
A (Elisa): Everything! I love the covers, especially my pink one!
Q (Lucas): What are you using your Hero Arm for or what are you most excited to begin using it for?
A (Nathalie): Elisa is really just waiting for school to start again so she can show off the Hero Arm in school and use it for different things there that would make things easier for her! I think she’s especially excited to draw with it at school, since she likes to draw!
Q (Lucas): How was the Hero Arm funded for you? Did you have a positive experience?
A (Nathalie): Yes we got the Hero Arm approved and covered with our insurance, which is Blue Cross Blue Shield. It was an easy process and they were very communicative through it all.
Lucas: That is so encouraging to hear, as sometimes those seeking assistance through insurance can have a rather challenging time. We are pleased to know the process was a positive one for you and especially Elisa so that she could get her Hero Arm! We at Open Bionics look forward to seeing what you do next with your Hero Arm!
Elisa and Nathalie: Thank you!
If you or someone you care about is interested in learning more about the Hero Arm, please head over to the Open Bionics website to register: https://openbionics.com/get-a-hero-arm/. Through amplifying positive experiences like Elisa’s, we will all meet the goal of making not only July, but every month of the year a prideful one for the disabled community. If you have a Hero Arm story that you’re interested in sharing with us, please reach out at [email protected].