Mirella L. Sacco, a McDougall/Spruce Ave resident, is a lifelong disability advocate, and she has dedicated much of her adult years to improving the lives of those with disabilities.
Sacco was born with spina bifida, and she is well aware of the challenges that those with disabilities face.
During the pandemic, Sacco started the Mirella L. Sacco Support Fund for Adults with Disabilities. “I’ve always really wanted to do something like that,” says Sacco, “and it was just the right time.”
Adults living with disabilities are often unable to get the medical equipment and supplies they need, says Sacco, and the fund was created to provide access to supplies and equipment not covered through other disability programs.
Sacco created the endowment fund in partnership with the Edmonton Community Foundation. Money is still being raised for the fund, but when the benchmark amount is raised through donations and fundraisers, it will become available for adults with disabilities to use.
In addition to disability advocacy, Sacco loves to cook. “I’m Italian,” says Sacco. “I’ll go to what is supposed to be an Italian restaurant and they just miss the mark!” Sacco has written four e-book cookbooks to share authentic Italian recipes with others, but it was a journey, she says. The absence of written recipes and concrete measurements made it difficult to put the meals she grew up with on paper.
“It was always a glass of this, a spoon of that, a handful of this,” Sacco explains, “so that took many years to do that first Italian cookbook.” Sacco also loves music and comedy. “Everybody in music and comedy has been incredibly kind to me,” she notes.
Sacco is very involved in the community, and she is currently working on a petition to increase the hours of operation for the disabled adult transportation service. “I try to get involved whenever I can and try to engage politicians,” says Sacco. “If I feel that there is something that’s wrong, I will reach out to MLAs or city council, depending on the level of government that’s involved.”
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn,” says Sacco, and she is committed to passing on her knowledge to others. “I just think it’s important for people in general to engage, to become enlightened [through learning,] and then we all become empowered.”
She hopes to help others become self-advocates and fight for what they need and what they believe in.
Plus, Sacco runs a blog at mirellamuses.wordpress.com that allows individuals to tell their stories in their own words.
Sacco’s main goal through her disability advocacy is to stop people with disabilities from being judged. “Don’t judge a book by its cover… you can have two people with the same disability and their experiences will be completely different because it depends on family, it depends on friends, it depends on the level of disability; there are many, many factors involved. Everybody’s experience is going to be different.”
And above all, Sacco wants those with disabilities to be seen. “I think that it’s important that people understand that we’re human beings,” says Sacco with emotion. Her greatest hope through her disability advocacy is “that people with disabilities won’t be judged. That there won’t be any discrimination. That we will be seen.”