Teen Vogue features Mavrides-Calderón’s (12) disability activism


Maeve Goldman, Staff Writer

“I realized everything I couldn’t do was not because of my body, but because of a lack of access and accommodations,” Isabel Mavrides-Calderón (12) said. This Monday, in a Teen Vogue article titled “11 Disability Rights Activists on Where the Fight for Justice Stands,” Mavrides-Calderón discussed how the struggle for disabled peoples’ rights has evolved post-Covid. 

After seeing Mavrides-Calderón in an NBC segment on ableist language, Teen Vogue reached out to her over the summer, she said. She and 10 other prominent disability activists answered questions about their experience fighting for disabled rights during the pandemic. Mavrides-Calderón was honored to speak alongside activists who have been crucial to her experience as a disabled person, she said. “Many of these older activists paved the way for me and others to have the rights we have today.”

Mavrides-Calderón became involved in activism at 13, she said. “I had just had my first spinal surgery and I was in bed, so I had a lot of free time to research disability rights.” She has since taken an active presence in the New York disability rights movement, from consulting on accessibility at Target to leading her own protest for the passage of the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2021, she said.

Mavrides-Calderón hopes the article will expose younger people to topics about disability rights, she said. “Even though TV shows and news segments are starting to include disability issues, these are normally shows that older people are watching,” she said. Through platforms such as Tiktok, Twitter, and Teen Vogue, Mavrides-Calderón aims to increase awareness among those who might not have learned about ableist issues on their own, she said.

As people move on from COVID and reverse the progress made with increased accessibility during the pandemic, disability activism is as important as ever, Mavrides-Calderón said. She has worked to preserve accommodations such as remote learning in New York by testifying before the City Council and collaborating with local government. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the national scale, and Mavrides-Calderón hopes the article and the conversation it sparks will encourage states to enact new policies. 

In the future, Mavrides-Calderón hopes to continue her work in special education. “It is an act of self love: if I am fighting for access and policies for disabled people, then I am also fighting for myself and my own rights,” she said. “Activism has led me to know what I deserve. For other disabled people, knowing the policies, laws, and rights that they have is how they can also learn to fight back against ableism and discrimination.”