Top 10 disabled and chronically ill activists

Sophia Kleanthous

Sophia shares 10 of her favourite disabled and chronically ill advocates from around the world that inspire her daily.

Today is International Youth Day. And to celebrate I am going to tell you about the fantastic youth activism within the disability community.

We have a big racism problem in the disability community. And an issue of White people taking up space in the activism sphere. People of Colour and Black people are often talked over by their White counterparts.

There is so much more we need to do to support disabled and chronically ill Black people and People of Colour. I look up to and am deeply inspired by each and every one of these trailblazing people. So here are 10 young, disabled and chronically ill Black people and People of Colour who are activists that you should know about in no particular order.

You can find out more about some of my activism work on my twitter @chroniccampaign or follow my campaign at @ableismandme.

Sophia Moreau

Sophia Moreau (@MsSMoreau) is a UK based and award-winning Black disabled campaigner. She has worked on campaigns with many organisations including, ‘Pregnant then Screwed’ and regularly speaks out about the gender pay gap. She is an incredible advocate whose compassion and activism extends to all parts of her life.

Sophia has worked hard to create campaigns that support anyone who has experienced ableism and racism. Most recently she started the hashtag #NotJustNCVO. She is a co-founder of @CharityDiscrim. It’s a group that has created a platform for people to discuss the racism and ableism that exists in the charity sector. Sophia was also recently shortlisted for the prestigious Sheila McKechnie Foundation Young Campaigner of the Year award, for her work on student maternity discrimination. 

Sophia is currently employed as the Head of Advocacy and Communications at Little Village, a charity working to end child poverty.

Emmanuela Banda

Emmanuela Banda is an amazing Black disabled and chronically ill woman, advocate and model. She uses her Instagram page and platform to raise awareness of living with chronic illnesses and disabilities. As well as the importance of including race in conversations on disability and representation in the media.

A true pioneer, she works in advertising. She has big dreams to influence the industry and target its systemic issues with racism and ableism and create more inclusive advertising. Emmanuela is never afraid of tackling complex and nuanced issues. Addressing issues of white supremacy, ableism, allyship and so much more!

She has been featured in articles on the racial health gap, discussed the different intersections of the LGBTQ + community and was recently featured in the ground-breaking ‘The Handi Book of Love, Lust and Disability’. 

Sukhjeen Kaur

Sukhjeen Kaur, also known in the community as @ChronicallyBrown is a powerful South Asian woman who has inspired a whole community of Brown disabled people to discuss their disabilities and chronic illnesses openly.

Sukhjeen created Chronically Brown, a Not for Profit, during the pandemic last year when she saw there was no representation or support for her community as a way of coping with being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when she was 20. Now the founder of a multi award-winning organisation Sukhjeen has worked hard to raise awareness of the difficulties of even discussing disability in the South Asian community.

Most recently she started the campaign ‘Desiabled’.  It’s smart and inspiring campaign that aims to get South Asians talking about their disabilities, the ableism they face particularly with their families. People from all around the world have taken part in Desiabled. She has truly changed so many people’s lives and established herself as an incredible campaigner!

Doaa Shayea

Doaa Shayea (@doaa.shayea) is a fantastic disabled Arab woman, a model, a para-athlete and a strong disability activist and campaigner. She has appeared on the cover of Possibility Magazine and works with Able Model Management.

She uses her platform to talk about fitness for everyone, life as a wheelchair user and smashing the narrative and misconceptions related to disabled people. She uses her social media to talk about mental health, owning your identity as a disabled person and recently how the workplace can affect you as a disabled person.

Doaa is breaking all the barriers. In 2014 she carried the Queen’s baton through Plymouth ahead of the Commonwealth games in Glasgow. She was also awarded the Plymouth Herald’s Rob Daley award for “overcoming adversity to excel in Sport”. 

Renee Bryant-Mulcarev

Renee Bryant-Mulcarev (@ree_valentine_) is an incredible activist and professional high-profile model. Renee is signed with the disabled and visible differences modelling agency ‘Zebedee Model Management’.

In just a year she has appeared in some major publications. She made history by being one of the first Black disabled women to be featured in Vogue Italia in 2020 and was recently featured again as part of their ‘Inclusion Revolution’ photoshoot, all about embracing diversity.

She is also the founder of ‘The Rise Tribe’, a business that focuses on supporting your mind body and soul with a particular focus on disabled people and engaging with our bodies. Renee has been using her platform to raise awareness of being a Black disabled model and the need for representation in the industry.

Neha Chudasama

Neha Chudasama is a fantastic South Asian disabled woman, digital artist, and powerful campaigner. She is the Founder of @_endoaware_. She uses her page and platform to raise awareness of living with endometriosis and fighting the stigma the chronic illness has.

Neha is a passionate activist and uses her drawings and art to illustrate the everyday challenges of living with a chronic illness, particularly one that faces continued gaslighting by medical professionals. Neha is a true strong warrior who provides a supportive platform for other people with endo and chronic illnesses.

She continues to provide advice and facts about endo she has learnt through her own painful journey. She has supported people all over the world and is a bright, shining light in this community. 

Suruthi Gnanenthiran

Suruthi Gnanenthiran is an incredible disabled South Asian woman who is an activist, campaigner around chronic illness. She has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and uses her page (@fightrheumatoidarthritis) and platform to raise awareness of the everyday challenges of living with a chronic illness like arthritis.

She often uses humorous memes to show the everyday ableism she and others experience. As well as powerful statements on living with a chronic illness and how she manages her illness and inspire others to do so. Suruthi has taken part in many campaigns on disabled rights and chronic illness and has created an amazing community of supporters. She uses her difficult story of being diagnosed at age three as a way to inspire others and show the reality of living with a chronic illness.

Junior Bishop

Junior Bishop (@yikesitsjr) is an incredible Black nonbinary disabled activist, exceptional artist, photographer actor, and model. They have worked on collaborations with fashion brands like Fred Perry and Bancino London. They were part of an amazing campaign with photographer Elise Dumontet and photoshoot around pronouns, gender and challenging binary assumptions

A real rising star, Junior is using their platform to raise awareness of queer culture, living as a disabled person and raising awareness of being a Black nonbinary disabled person. They are pushing for more representation of queer, trans and nonbinary people in the media and modelling industry and was recently a guest speaker for ‘The Digital Diversity Festival’. You can find some of their amazing art that they created for Black History Month last year for Ableism and Me. I believe their life is about to change forever and I’m so excited to see what they are going to do in the future. 

Vina Mohabir

Vina Mohabir (@vinamohabir) is a wonderful disabled Brown woman and Chronic Pain activist, advisor and researcher of chronic pain and chronic illness. She is passionate about patient driven chronic pain research.

Vina uses her page to reach out to patients and those who have chronic illnesses and disabilities to ensure that those most affected by chronic illness are involved in clinical and qualitative research. She provides the community completely unique opportunities to finally be part of adult care policy and high-level research.

Vina is an incredible advocate whose compassion for others is second to none. Through her platform she has amplified the voices of chronically ill people particularly during COVID 19. She is a true advocate providing unique and important opportunities for people with chronic illness to be included in life changing research and beloved by the disabled and chronically ill community.

Vina has used the pain that began in her teen years to amplify the voices of chronically ill people and advocate for others who experience chronic pain.

Brittanie Wilson

Brittanie Wilson (@brittanie.wilson) is an amazing Black disabled woman, activist, model and campaigner and disability advocate. She uses her platform and page to discuss and dissect important disabled rights discussions and current affairs. Key topics she engages with are disabled rights, disability policy, Black disabled history, disability and employability and normalising disabled bodies.

Last year she graduated in a self-advocacy programme for adults. She has used this knowledge to support others to fight for their rights and advocate for themselves. She also uses TikTok to normalise disabled people taking part in everyday activities. Recently she testified in relation to why they should phase out sub-minimum wages, where disabled people are currently paid less than abled people.

She spoke in front of Minnesota Legislatures and has proven to be a powerful disabled rights activist. It is her strong and passionate determination that makes her so inspiring to so many. A big campaigner of ‘Crip the Vote’, a campaign to target inaccessibility at polling stations, vote by mail issues etc, Britt has used her platform to educate, inform and inspire people to campaign on the issues that directly affect them.

Sign our open letter

At Ableism and Me, we are writing a letter to The National Council of Volunteering Organisation’s to call for more inclusive campaigns featuring Black people and People of Colour who are disabled and chronically ill.

Contact me to sign our open letter at my Instagram @the_chroniccampaigner