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Meet Derrek Cooke

The above image is an image of Derrek Cooke, a 32 year old Disabled Person living in Newburgh, New York. He is holding a bag that says "BELIEVE IN YOURSELF"

His Story

Derrek Cooke was born with a birth defect called Spina Bífida. He says he has the most severe form of it called Myelomeningocele.

Derrek owns a small online business on Etsy called Derrek's Bags where he sells bags and fanny packs, with positive and other messages on them, that are big enough for people to carry catheters and other medical supplies in the bags when they go out. He also sells laptop sleeves on his Etsy store. He donates 10% of profits to the Spina Bifida Association.

His current goals are to get more people, with and without disabilities, to be aware of his business and to also get more sales.

He has always lived in New York. He was born in Goshen, NY, lived a few years in Barryville, NY when he was a baby, lived in Washingtonville, NY until he was 10, lived in Salisbury Mills, NY until he was 26 and moved to Newburgh, NY in December 2016 and have been living in Newburgh, NY ever since.

Derrek attended and graduated from Washingtonville High School in Washingtonville, NY and he also attended and graduated from Orange County Community College in Middletown, NY.

He believes he's had two experiences with discrimination due to him being Disabled. Some may say it is not but he believes he was discriminated against. Back in June 2008, after he graduated from high school he was looking for a job. With the help of a job coach he applied for jobs to stock shelves at K - Mart and Sears and the job coach also was able to help him set up interviews for the jobs at both places. He went to Sears first for the first interview and he walked up to a worker and told her that he was there to be interviewed. The worker then said the manager was not there and to please wait for a bit. He waited for about 30 minutes and then left because the manager did not show up. The next day he had the interview for the job at K - Mart. When he got to K - Mart he went up to a worker and asked where the manager was because he had a job interview. The worker then said the manager was not there and she was not told about any interviews for that day. Derrek said thank you and then left. He did not hear from either manager and he believes both managers were not at both interviews because they knew he was Disabled.

"I believe ableism does exist in the world. I say that because of my experience with K - Mart and Sears. Also because of the recent comments Candance Owens made about adaptive clothing and also because of the tweets I see from disabled people on Twitter about their experiences with people and ableism. I also believe a way the disability community can fight ableism is by keep talking about it and try to talk to people without disabilities about it as well."

Derrek Cooke

What he would like to share with people are a couple of things:

"To all of the people with disabilities - if you have a dream whether you want to start a business or be an advocate, you can do it and succeed at it.

To all of the people without disabilities - there are people with disabilities in the world. Do not look down on them. People with disabilities lead amazing lives and do great things just like people who don't have disabilities."

Visit Derrek's shop here:

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