Disabled Women Make History: Curran Brown

Posted by Stephanie Woodward in Life After Paralysis on December 02, 2021 # Disabled Women Make History

“I’m a bit of a daredevil. I like to push the limits and challenge myself to see what I can do out there in the world.”

Curran Brown discusses travel, adventure, and occupational therapy.

Curran, in a kayak on the water, wearing sunglasses and making a kissy face.“I really like art - a lot of non-traditional, abstract, quirky art,” says Curran Brown, a London-based occupational therapy student who is just as quirky as the art she loves. “I always think that in my past life, I was an artist. Maybe in my future life, I will be. We will see.”

Curran, who moved to London to study for her master’s degree, is a Georgia native with an affinity for world travel, music that gets her dancing, board games, and Bobby Flay. “I love cooking and anything food-related. I can watch the Food Network channel literally all day. I have the hugest crush on Bobby Flay,” Curran shares with a smile, “if he’s reading this, call me.”

Though her interests in the culinary world are strong, Curran’s professional interests have always been in the medical field. Initially, she wanted to be a doctor, but after a few years in college and talking with some doctors, Curran realized that she did not want to live the life of a doctor, so she began looking at other professions. That’s when she realized that adaptive sports played a huge part in her life. In fact, Curran credits adaptive sports as being pivotal to her rehab process and transitioning to life as a wheelchair user after sustaining her spinal cord injury in a car accident when she was six years old.

Curran playing wheelchair basketball with 3 other people.“I truly believe every kid with a disability deserves to have the opportunity to participate in sports and play in their community with their friends,” Curran explained. “So, I wanted to be a recreational therapist working at adaptive sports organizations.”

While going down the recreational therapy road, Curran began working at the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. At Shepherd, Curran met a recently injured patient who was about the same age as her. The patient was struggling with cathing in the community, and at one point, the patient told Curran that she would rather stay at home than live her life because she did not want to go to the bathroom in public.

“That really made me sad because this beautiful, intelligent girl has such a long life to live and can make an impact in this world. People with disabilities don’t need to be in their homes, they need to be out and about!” Curran pointed out. “Her occupational therapist and I worked with her to figure out a way that she could intermittent cath and feel comfortable in public. That’s why it’s really cool to have someone with a disability in this role, because I really think it helped her when she watched me do the process – actually, someone with a disability doing exactly what she’s trying to learn. Once she graduated from rehab, she would tell me how she is never at home, and she started to learn to drive so she could go back to school. It was awesome to see her gain that independence and just blossom. That’s what solidified my desire to be an occupational therapist.”

With that, Curran set off to England to start her master’s program. Now that Curran is in her second year of the program, she is excited to graduate and provide greater disability representation in the world of occupational therapy.

Curran sits in her wheelchair, smiling, in front of the Tower Bridge in London.“I think having someone with a disability in this role is super freaking awesome, to be honest! I know if my therapist when I was six years old had some type of disability and I saw them living life, doing amazing things, and making a difference in this world, I definitely would’ve had a different outlook on life post disability, especially on things that I can do.”

Curran is especially passionate about this because, outside of sports, she had little access to successful disabled role models while she was growing up. While she always looked up to women in adaptive sports because they carried themselves in a strong, beautiful manner that gave Curran the confidence to feel beautiful and embrace her own body, Curran still wishes she had more disabled women role models outside of sports.

“I knew sports was never a life or career goal of mine. I love basketball, but ball is not life,” Curran explained. “I grew up not really knowing what else was out there besides sports for disabled people. My family would tell me anything is possible, which was nice, but then I had all these high goals and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to get there. It would have been beneficial to have women in other roles truly living and showing me that it’s possible.”

Though she did not know what was possible, Curran’s adventurous spirit led her to find out for herself exactly what she could do. On her journey, Curran found that she loves kayaking, hiking, being surrounded by nature, and traveling the world. “I’m a bit of a daredevil. I like to push the limits and challenge myself to see what I can do out there in the world.”

Curran smiles in front of a colorful graffiti art wall.Her enthusiasm for travel has brought her all over the world. In fact, when she’s bored, she starts searching for cheap plane tickets to see where the universe will take her next. While she enjoys exploring new places with friends, she’s just as likely to take a trip solo. Throughout her travels, Curran has learned how to adapt, especially when going to countries that are not as developed because it can be very hard to find information on accessibility, especially when traveling on a budget. Everything from hotel accessibility to public transportation and sidewalks can sometimes be a mystery – but the worst mystery of all is the bathrooms! Despite having some misadventures with her quest to find an accessible place to pee, Curran has no plans to stop exploring – and she doesn’t think any disabled person should shy away from seeing the world.

“Don’t listen to anyone or conform to any silly stereotypes that tell you what you can’t do! You determine what you can and can’t do,” Curran advised about travel, and about life. “With that being said, it’s also okay to ask for help during your journey of accomplishing your goals. When asking for accommodations, make sure you articulate properly and confidently exactly what you need so there is no confusion, and your skills and abilities will shine to get the job done!”

Stephanie Woodward is an attorney and Executive Director of Disability EmpowHer Network, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls and women with disabilities. Stephanie is passionate about seeking justice for marginalized communities - and has an arrest record to show for it. As a proud disabled woman and civil rights activist, Stephanie is committed to bringing more women and girls with disabilities to the forefront through mentoring and activism.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.