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Connie Panzarino
(1947 - 2004) U.S.A.

Connie Panzarino

Activist, writer, and artist

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Connie was born with the rare Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type III disease, formerly called Amytonia Congenita, and used a wheelchair. Throughout a childhood filled with both pain and joy, she strove to define herself:

"I knew I was different. Now I had a name for the difference, like being Italian or Jewish. I was an Amytonia. I didn't understand if that meant that I would never walk, or if all it meant was lack of muscle tone. I didn't know that most children with this disease die before they're five years old..."

In her book The Me in the Mirror, Connie recounts the challenges of growing up handicapped, her early adulthood and dawning political activism, her relationship with Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, a longtime friend and sometime lover of disability rights activist Ron Kovic.

Connie eventually understood being lesbian and turned to political activism. She established Beechwood, a communal living environment for disabled women, where she continues her work as a therapist, writer, artist, and activist.

She was director of the Boston Self Help Center and sat on the boards of the Disability Law Center, the Project on Women and Disability, and the Boston Center for Independent Living. She also was on the editorial board of Access Expressed of Very Special Arts.

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Picture: from the back cover of her book The Me in the Mirror

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