Monday, August 14, 2017

Spotlight: Sammi Tucker

Samantha "Sammi" Tucker, an Air Force veteran, lost part of her left arm in 2010. Having less than two years experience, Tucker became the first American woman to compete in the Open Compound Para Archery Division at last year's Paralympics. She is an abuse survivor and former methamphetamine addict whose life is now on target. As a resilience expert, Tucker encourages people to think in a positive way to overcome adversity; her first book will be released soon. She was the keynote speaker at the Florida Youth Council's Tenth Annual Youth Summit (an event for people with disabilities aged 15-30) August 11-12 in Orlando (please refer to my August 8, 2016 post for a recap of the Ninth Annual Youth Summit). For more information about Tucker, go to http://www.sammitucker.com/.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Ability App: Providing Accessibility Information

Alexander "Alex" Knoll, a 12-year-old from Post Falls, Idaho, has been in the process of developing Ability App for people with disabilities. This free app will list disability-friendly features of various locations (automatic doors, wheelchair ramps, etc.). Ability App will also keep users informed of disability services like in-home care and transportation as well as employment opportunities. People with visual impairments or without the use of their limbs can use the app with their voice while those without the use of their limbs or voice can use eye-tracking software. Ability App will make users aware of the accessibility of where they want to go. Knoll won awards at a few student invention competitions in 2015 and 2016. He was inspired to create Ability App after seeing a wheelchair user struggle to open a heavy door at a sporting goods store.

Knoll has appeared on TV shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show on which he received a $25,000 donation from Shutterfly, a company that makes photo books and other picture-related gifts. Knoll is looking for accessibility ambassadors to help populate accessibility information on the app, and donations are appreciated. For more information about Ability App, go to http://www.abilityapp.org/.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Joni Eareckson Tada: 50 Years in a Wheelchair

Joni Eareckson Tada has accomplished a lot since she became paralyzed at age 17 due to a diving accident 50 years ago. She is the founder and CEO of the Joni and Friends International Disability Center, which promotes Christianity to people with disabilities. A breast cancer survivor, Joni is a magazine columnist and has written more than 50 books, including her autobiography Joni. The 1979 film of the same name in which Joni played herself is being shown at a movie screening at a church in Westlake Village, California on Sunday, August 6. As a disability advocate, Joni has traveled to more than 45 countries and received numerous awards. She hosts a daily radio program and used to host a TV show called Joni and Friends.

Joni enjoys painting with a brush between her teeth, which she learned during her two-year rehabilitation following her accident. She has been married to her husband Ken since 1982. Joni is truly an inspiration, especially to wheelchair users. For more information about this amazing woman, go to http://www.joniandfriends.org/.

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Joni Eareckson Tada

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Parker Foundation for Autism and Child Development

Based in Indian Harbor Beach, the Parker Foundation for Autism and Child Development enhances the lives of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their parents/caretakers through education, sports, and arts programs. These programs are made possible by partnerships with individuals, local businesses, and organizations. Informational sessions are held periodically for those who want to learn more about ASD. Along with UCF's Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and the nonprofit Spring Forward for Autism, the Parker Foundation participated in the creation of "Be Safe Be Prepared," a mobile app that contains ASD resources. One upcoming event is the 2nd Annual Parker Foundation Musical Concert, which will take place from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. on Saturday, August 5, at Wesley Church (2075 Meadowlane Ave. in West Melbourne). The concert is free, but donations would be appreciated. Basketball clinics are planned for November.

One of the Parker Foundation's co-founders, Melissa Parker is Mrs. Southeast International 2017, and her platform is autism awareness. She'll compete at the Mrs. International Pageant in Charleston, West Virginia, August 11-12. For more information about the Parker Foundation for Autism and Child Development, go to http://www.theparkerfoundation.com/.

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Courtesy of brevardcountyevents.com

Monday, July 24, 2017

Speaking About My Job Search

The Space Coast Center for Independent Living (SCCIL) hosted the "Learn to Earn Summer Youth Program" for at least 30 young people with disabilities July 10-21 at the Holz Center in Melbourne (please refer to my July 3 post to learn more about the Holz Center). Last Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking about my job search experience to the "Learn to Earn" participants during the final hour of the program. Using PowerPoint to supplement my presentation, I described how I obtained my quality analyst job and talked about the roles of self-advocacy, self-determination, and personal support groups in one's job search. A point I emphasized in my speech is job seekers should never give up, even if it takes them years to get their dream job. I was pleased members of the audience were responsive to what I had to say, answering a few questions I asked.

Preparing for my speech made me reflect on the gratitude I have for my current job. The process I went through to become employed by J.Lodge three years ago wasn't easy. I wish for the "Learn to Earn" participants the best of luck in their job search. For more information about SCCIL, go to https://www.sccil.net/.

As I reminded the "Learn to Earn" participants in my speech, Wednesday, July 26, is the 27th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

I with some "Learn to Earn" participants

Monday, July 17, 2017

Focusing on "Cape Abilities"

Cape Abilities is an agency that provides services to more than 400 people with various disabilities in the Cape Cod, Massachusetts, area. Founded in 1968, Cape Abilities follows its slogan "Creating Opportunity" by offering a variety of programs such as living skills/day habilitation, pre-employment transition services, vocational assessment and support, transportation, and residential services. The agency also runs enterprises for which some program participants work: Cape Abilities Farm, Cape Abilities Farm to Table Market & Gallery, Cape Abilities Thrift Shop, Cape Abilities Vending, and Cape Abilities Furniture Rescue & Restoration. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and SourceAmerica-AbilityOne have also created job opportunities for program participants.

Cape Abilities' excellence as a disability services agency is evident in its being awarded the highest accreditation possible from CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) International; it is also licensed and certified by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services' (DDS) Office of Quality Enhancement. Cape Abilities and seven other non-profits will receive the proceeds from the inaugural Charter Cup fishing tournament to be held in Hyannis, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, July 19. Cape Abilities will also be raising money for its programs by participating in the seven-mile-long New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Sunday, August 20. Donations can be made all year round online. For more information about Cape Abilities, go to http://www.capeabilities.org/ and its social media platforms.
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Courtesy of cccls.com

Monday, July 10, 2017

Muscle Memory Dance Company

A part of Hometown Hope, the Muscle Memory Dance Company (MMDC) is a dance group that focuses on movement invention, interdisciplinary collaboration, multimedia, site-specific performances, and dance therapy. Holding classes in Rockledge, MMDC has a dance education program for those who want to learn. Accepting donations, the Healing Arts Program provides dance therapy to students with special needs, people with Alzheimer's and dementia, and other groups in need. MMDC will be teaching a mixed ability class for children and teenagers with special needs every Tuesday from August 15 to December 12. For information such as how to register, go to https://musclememorydance.org/.

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