Sunday, October 30, 2016

INCLUSION WORKS

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The title of this post is this year's theme. There are approximately 57 million disabled Americans. We are the largest minority group.  

According to an article written for CNN Money, in July of 2015. " In the early 1990s, about half of disabled Americans were employed, according to Census data. Today that has fallen to just 41%. Some of the decline is due to an aging population. Older workers are more likely to have disabilities, especially physical ones." http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/26/news/economy/americans-with-disabilities-act-problems-remain/

Many disabled Americans. like me, want to work, but we are afraid of losing our benefits. There is no incentive to work because of the restrictions that have been placed on us by the government.

People with disabilities are more conscientious and appreciative than most non disabled workers. That is because we know that we must prove that we can do the job that we were hired to do. If an employer is willing to make the reasonable accommodations that may be necessary so that a disabled worker can do their job effectually, the employer will find that hiring someone with a disability is an asset to the job, rather than a liability.

The best example of the postie effect of inclusion in the workforce can be found on the television show Speechless. Instead of hiring a non disabled actor for the role of JJ DiMeo, The show hired Micah Fowler. As you know, Fowler, like the character he portrays, has cerebral palsy. He is a working actor on a hit sitcom. He is part of the cast. He is doing his job. He is contributing..

Micah has the largest trailer of any of  the actors on the show. His trailer has a ramp to accommodate his wheelchair. He also has his own makeup chair on the back patio of his trailer.

Inclusion works. .Just give us a chance.












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Thursday, October 27, 2016

SHE WENT TO VISIT THE QUEEN

American television viewers will remember Emma Samms from her 80's television roles  Fans first saw her in the short lived TV series, Models Inc.
Audiences remember her as  Holly Sutton, the con artist with a heart of gold on General Hospital. Holly won Luke Spencer's heart after his beloved Laura was presumed dead. Emma Samms made fans forget Pamela Sue Martin ever existed. She took over the role of Fallon Carrington Colby on Dynasty and The Colbys and made it her own.

In 1982, Emma co-founded The Starlight Children's  Foundation with her cousin, Peter Samuelson. Starlight has chapters in the United Kingdom, the U.S. Canada, Australia and  Puerto Rico. http://www.starlight.org/

Starlight is an non-profit organization. Its mission is to brighten the lives of seriously ill children. The organization partners with other non-profits and children's health organizations to accomplish its goal. Starlight lessens a child's fear by bringing entertainment, innovations in technology and education to them during their treatment or hospital stay.

Recently, Emma was awarded an MBE for her work with Starlight and other children's charities. She was made a  Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.  http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/actress-emma-samms-receives-mbe-from-the-queen/story-29840301-detail/story.html

I met  Emma and her sister, Louise, in the 80's, when she played Holly on General Hospital. I never thought, when I wrote a fan letter to Emma that I would receive a reply.I received a hand written note from Louise. That note started a friendship between Louise and me.  Louise and Emma invited me to the studio for lunch when we were on vacation in California. I have some lovely memories of that day as well as the day I attended Emma's fan club luncheon and year or two later. 

Life got in the way. Louise and I lost touch for many years. I always tried to keep up with what Emma was doing. Thanks to social media, Louise and I have reconnected. I love hearing about her life and seeing her photos. Facebook has bridged the continent between us. Twitter helps me stay connected with Emma. She and I have something in common now. She is a writer too.

Congratulations Emma, on your well deserved honor. I loved seeing the photos.  I know that you will continue helping others and bring them joy. Louise, thank you for your friendship. Keep those photos coming. I am proud to call both of you  my friends. 

And, It all started with a simple fan letter.





   





Sunday, October 16, 2016

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD

October 15, 2016, marked the two year anniversary of my being forced to move into a facility. When I moved here, I was advised to embrace being here.  Two years have passed. Seven hundred and thirty days. I cannot embrace being here. It feels like a punishment.  I keep wondering what I did.   I wonder how long I will have to pay for my crime

Someone on Facebook, asked me to defend my reason for supporting Hillary Clinton. Senator Clinton has brought disability rights to the forefront of her campaign, She is the first candidate to endorse The Disability Integration Act http://www.adapt.org/main.diamain ,

The DIA was introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer. Its purpose is to ensure that people like me, who were forced to live in long term care facilities  or other institutions be given the supports and services needed so that they may be integrated back into the community. ADAPT a grass roots organization,works tirelessly to ensure that the rights and freedom of people with disabilities are protected,  

You can read Senator Clinton's statement regarding the DIA here: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/statements/2016/04/06/statement-by-hillary-clinton-on-the-disability-integration-act/

No one who is not sick and has a good mind should have to live with limited rights and freedom. I can get out, but getting transportation can be a hassle. Getting aides to cooperate  can be an even bigger challenge. I wish the state had contacted an independent living center about support services for me. Instead, they just dumped me here.  It's been two years. It feels like ten.

When I look in the mirror, I see a person with many challenges whose body has betrayed them. Recently, I visited the Starkloff Disability Institute.  http://starkloff.org/ Starkloff helps people with disabilities gain employment and be part of their community. I saw people with many more challenges than I have. I visited a gentleman's apartment. I learned how he manages caregivers so that he is safe. He works. He lives his life.I hope  Staekloff can help me too.

I have put my family through a lot. I have done and said things I am not proud of to get my way. I have asked for their forgiveness countless times. The have no reason to believe me now. I am truly sorry. I thank them for all they have done. I hope I will have their support as I begin my journey toward freedom. I don't know what will happen. I have to try. I don't want to die here.

The person on Facebook asked why they should vote for Hillary Clinton.. Donald Trump has mocked people with disabilities, insulted every minority group and spoken about woman as though they were less than human  He believes a woman's only purpose is to sexually satisfy men. 

I am not telling anyone why they should vote for one candidate or the other. The most important thing is to vote. Let your voice be heard.












Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I WANTED TO...

October 4, 2016 is Ballet Day at The Royal Opera House in London. A friend posted this video on my Facebook page. I was so moved by the video that I had to share it.  https://www.facebook.com/royaloperahouse/videos/10154170899857579

October 5, 2016 is World CP  Day/ 
According to their page on Facebook,"World Cerebral Palsy Day is a movement of people with cerebral palsy and their families, and the organisations that support them, in more than 50 countries. "

"Our vision is to ensure that children and adults with cerebral palsy (CP) have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society. It is only together, that we can make that happen."


World CP Day seeks to "Empower people with a cerebral palsy to have a voice about changing their world."

The video of Charlotte realizing her dream of participating in ballet is a perfect example of what World CP Day is all about.  Inclusion and acceptance..

There have been positive changes.  We still have a long way to go before we are truly accepted. I constantly have to tell any new aide I have that there is nothing wrong with my mind. My limbs don't work the way they should. I hope the day comes when people truly see me as a person with abilities, not just someone with a  disability. I hope the the day comes when people with CP aren't forced to be in nursing homes just because they need care.

I wanted to write something profound. I wanted to write what this day means to me and everyone with cerebral palsy. .I wanted to, but I'm not. Instead, I am going to encourage you to watch the video of Charlotte. I am going encourage you to watch Speechless tomorrow night.  You can also catch up on episodes at.  http://abc.go.com/shows/speechless  Doing those two things will tell you so much more than I ever could.

HAPPY WORLD CEREBRAL PALSY DAY!