“If you can dream it you can do it.” This was spoken by Walt Disney and as I think about that quote I realize what he said is certainly true in every aspect of our lives. I have been blessed with some incredible parents who have supported me everything I do and they decided early on that I wouldn’t be treated differently because of my disability. That choice they made eighteen years ago has gotten me to where I am today. God has poured out so many blessing and opened so many doors to amazing opportunities it absolutely blows my mind! I can’t believe I will start college this fall and although I don’t know what the future holds for me I know that His plans for me are a million times better than my own!! No matter what our disability is it doesn’t define who we will become. I’m so inspired by the faith my parents have always had for me because they knew even at the age of three that I could do anything I set my mind to even though I have Cerebral Palsy. I pray that my life may be an encouragement to others that despite the curves life throws at us they don’t define who we are or who we’ll become later in life!
This is an extremely belated New Year’s post, but here it is. As I reflected back over 2013 I was honestly amazed by just how much God blessed me with so many wonderful experiences and opportunities I never could have imagined. 2014 will be an amazing year that will have trials but I know in God’s strength I can do anything no matter how it intimidating it might be. I will be closing one chapter of life by graduating high school and starting a brand new one! I can remember thinking freshmen year that graduation would never come and now it’s here. I’m just so thankful that God has guided me to this turning point in my life, and I know He will continue to do so in the future. He already knows my future and what the outcome will be all I have to do is trust Him. Sometimes that’s much easier said than done especially as my surgery is rapidly approaching. I just remind myself that if He created the world and everything on it, who am I to doubt Him? That’s what keeps me going.
I decided to do some research on the most handicap accessible colleges simply because I’m about to embark on this new journey myself. I also figured this information could be very helpful as well. My search began by visiting UNC ACCESS (Accessible College Campuses for Everyone Site Surveys) This site was extremely helpful and informational. ACCESS was actually created in memory of Thomas C. Barrett who passed away in June 2007. Barrett was in his senior year at Elon University when he received several awards in honor and recognition of raising awareness for campus accessibility of sixteen UNC campuses. The thing I found interest in was the scoring chart that included North Carolina schools. The scoring ranges from the best to the worst. Areas that were scored include Entrances, Elevators, Restrooms as well as classrooms. I was very impressed that UNCG has an overall score of 0.79. Since I plan to attend UNCG to obtain an English degree after I complete two years at Davidson County Community College in order to get the necessary prerequisites taken care of. Other colleges that were scored include: Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, NC A&T as well as many more. I have included the link to ACCESS under Resources!
I read an article the other day that ultimately struck a chord with me. It is entitled “10 Crazy Things People Still Say To Someone Who Uses A Wheelchair” by The Mobility Resource. The first thing from the article that impacted me was when the author said someone told her “You’re really pretty for someone in a wheelchair.” My initial reaction to this was very humorous just to think that someone actually had the nerve to say that. What did they mean by saying that? I’m gonna get on my soapbox for a minute. The thing I can’t understand is this: Why do able bodied people sometimes view people who are disabled as strange, different or weird? I understand that there are some disabilities that are more involved than others however, I don’t feel particularly comfortable with the fact that some people in our society today have “labeled” anyone with a disability. When in actual reality we are no different from them. Yeah, we might look a little different or possibly be in a wheelchair, but we are all human. As a kid growing up and even now seventeen years later I go out somewhere and a little kid will ask their parent “What’s wrong with her?” I always make an effort to say hey and smile at them so they know I’m just like them, even though I can’t walk. Honestly I’ve learned to look at moments like that as opportunities to show the people around me everyday that I have chosen to live life with my disability to the fullest and not to let the common stereotypes or labels society has given us stop me. Besides, you’d be amazed at what a positive attitude and a smile can do.
We all experience questionable times in our lives whether we have a disability or not. I know that in my own life I have a tendency to struggle with these times more and along the way I’ve learned that it’s okay to question God but we just can’t choose to have a negative attitude or outlook towards the situation, whatever it may be. I know from experience that the sooner you do your best to accept your circumstances, the sooner God is able to give you His peace that passes all understanding. It wasn’t until this past summer at LIFE 2013 that I could truly feel God speaking to me and saying “All I want is for you to do your best to be content with these circumstances and trust me I know what I’m doing.” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. God already knows when we are going to struggle and go through trials and all we as his children are asked to do is trust Him in everything and in every situation. I really don’t know the reason why for my circumstances yet but I am positive about one thing. God has a way of using the trials and struggles we face to make us stronger in Him!
I’d like to start this post by thanking everyone who voted for me as your 2013 Homecoming Queen!! It was a true blessing and God has definitely blessed me with amazing friends, family and community who sees me for me and doesn’t judge me for my chair. All through school my parents have went above and beyond to ensure that I wouldn’t be treated any differently just because of my disability. I really am incredibly grateful to them for doing that. I honestly think that it showed others how to accept people regardless of their limitations. I can remember back in elementary school always being known as the “cool kid” because of my chair and most of the people I’ve went all through school with have grown to accept my chair as well because they don’t know any different.
Being voted Homecoming Queen showed me that those people will always see me for who I really am and to think that they think and care enough about me to carry out a tremendous honor and privilege for our school. I’m truly stunned at the amount of support and encouragement I have gotten from all of you! I am also grateful that God has given me this opportunity to reach and impact even more people for Him!!
My first reaction when I read about this was varied because having been to Disney twice myself and having no issues, I just couldn’t understand why they would want to change it? As I read I took a step back and tried to view the situation from Disney’s perspective. Disney had no control over what guests did with the passes after receiving them and I know that people aren’t responsible and honest all the time. Chances are that when the disability passes were originally created no one ever thought this issue would arise. The biggest issue I have with this is that I know in today’s economic times money is tight because if we’re honest everyone feels the pinch and the situation only exemplified as more people began to abuse this privilege. You will always have those folks that continually cheat the system and my thought process is you know they’re getting pretty desperate when they try to fit a large group into the park under one disability pass. However, in my past trips six people have been allowed to get on a ride with me. I don’t necessarily like that the disability policy has changed, but I can easily adapt to it. Now I do feel sorry for someone who is more severely disabled having to wait in line for something and I also don’t feel like it’s fair that we are having to pay the price for someone’s utter laziness. If people wouldn’t have abused it in the first place it wouldn’t be yet another hurdle that someone with a disability has to jump through.
For more information the link to the article is located under Resources!
Many times I’ve heard the phrase “Anything is possible” when in reality if you’re in a wheelchair that sometimes isn’t the case. At least the possibility of driving is actually true. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to drive a vehicle in a wheelchair, however I haven’t started this process yet but I plan to in the very near future. The main thing is knowing where to start and the answer is simple.
You are obviously required to take Driver’s Ed and everything involved with that first and I have also heard that they have actual accessible vehicles available when you reach the driving portion of Driver’s Ed. They request those vehicles from Greensboro, NC. Everyone’s situation varies but I think those vehicles have a knob in the middle of the steering wheel. The brake and gas pedals are located on the dashboard to allow easier access to disabled drivers and if their feet are unable to reach the floorboard.
I’m almost certain that in today’s technological age and advancements it is possible for your car to be modified in order to cater to the specific needs of your disability if that was needed. The possibility of these things excites me because it will be such an incredible experience for me once I reach this point. Being a senior in high school myself, it is kind of disheartening not being able to drive yet. When you turn sixteen, that’s like the biggest milestone you reach. I have to remind myself that just because I haven’t done it yet, doesn’t mean I never will. In doing some research of my own I have found quite a few beneficial resources dealing with having a disability and driving. Everything I’ve found is located under Resources and also check out my photo gallery for pictures of accessible vans/vehicles!
I’ve learned quite a few things throughout my life especially when it comes to living my life from a wheelchair. The best advice I can give you is to never let your disability, no matter what it is rule your life. Meaning that you can’t let it control you to the point of depression because that’s never a good place to be. I’m not going to lie it is the most frustrating, difficult and rewarding situation to be given. The way I see it is if none of us were meant to be here, we wouldn’t even exist. We all have good and bad days but there comes a point where we have to just accept our circumstances and try to determine the best way to live with them.
Being in middle school is hard on anybody, but it only exemplifies when you’re in a wheelchair. The last thing you want to do is stick out and in my case I really had no choice and people will stare but that’s just because they don’t realize how awesome disabled people are! 🙂 Seriously though, I really believe sometimes people take their lives for granted and nobody is perfect so you know we are gonna make mistakes at some point.
We just can’t let those mistakes define us. I’ve often been asked “How hard was it to learn to drive your chair?” I reply “Really hard. Honestly my parents had it worse than me because I was so destructive with it, but then again I was only three.” One reason why I think people can sometimes take things for granted is that they forget just how blessed they are just to be able to wake up everyday. I’ll admit I want to walk more than anything in the world and I hear people say “I wish I could ride around all day like you.” I think to myself oh, trust me you don’t. It does have its advantages but it gets old REAL quick.
Another thing I’ve learned along the way is you have to count your blessings because there will always be someone in a worse situation than you. The main thing I try to do is live my life for God and with purpose. Furthermore, I have learned that if we aren’t living a purposeful life, than we aren’t doing anything. God has also taught me that we can’t live our lives in fear because we will not be as effective for Him!