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Woman With Disability Adjusts After COVID Interrupts Work

As a person who likes to stay busy, Chelsea Davis had a hard time adjusting when COVID shut down her places of employment and volunteering. Seth Johnson interviewed her for Side Effects Public Media as part of an audio diary project for our Move to Include series.


Hi. My name is Chelsea Davis. I’m 32 years old, and I live in Greenwood, Indiana.

I was diagnosed with ADHD, and then a little bit of autism. But it’s more the ADHD that I’m diagnosed with. From elementary through high school, I struggled a lot with focus issues. I would get distracted by something 

and not want to focus in class.

COVID has impacted me because I haven’t been able to do the normal activities that I’m used to. Keeping busy is good for me. I do a lot in the community. One of those things is Special Olympics, and another is the Hope Gallery.

Special Olympics was on a break for a while because of COVID. We weren’t able to compete. I wasn’t able to visit the Hope Gallery — I wasn’t able to work at the gallery. The Hope Gallery is a unique boutique run by people with developmental disabilities. It exists to empower the lives of people with developmental disabilities. I just try to keep myself busy a lot.

I work at Old Navy, and I’ve been there two years now. In my role at Old Navy, I straighten up the store before it opens, and then I put out new products like our new mask that we have. Old Navy did close. We were shut down for four months because of COVID.

Our team members got an email saying that we were set to come back and go through the whole new orientation training again for COVID. The first two weeks that I was back, I had to go through training, just finding out what safety procedures we had to do in order to keep our customers safe and our employees safe at the same time.

It definitely felt a little weird going back in. You don’t know what to expect when you go back in. After being off for four months, you’re not used to wearing a mask all the time that you’re there, and you can’t take that mask off until you’re either out the door or away from the building.

It actually feels good to be back. I missed a lot of the people I work with, and it feels good to see them. When I was able to come back to work, I was excited to be able to get that paycheck and see a lot of my friends that I work with. We’ve made really close relationships. We can talk about Old Navy — we can talk about anything.

Working in the community makes me feel good. It shows people that I can go out and do different things. Just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I can’t go out and work. We can go out and work. We can do jobs.

This audio diary was produced by Colleen Pellissier for  Side Effects Public Media, a Midwest news collaborative covering public health. It is part of the  Move to Include Initiativewhich focuses on people with disabilities and the issues they face. The project is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2021 Side Effects Public Media. To see more, visit Side Effects Public Media.

Kate Howard is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

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