At the end of September, I attended the Collaboration Conference in Virginia Beach. There, I was able to network with organizations and individuals about lobbying work. I’ll start lobbying again in January, which is coming up quick! In addition to networking, I also heard updated policy outcomes and listened to a few different programs.
I went from Virginia Beach to Atlanta, Georgia to speak at the NACA (National Association for Campus Activities) South Conference. It was my first time presenting a new program, Leadership on a Roll. I spoke in front of around 60 people and talked about different types of leadership. I’ve always loved to talk to others, and I always enjoy the chance to share my experiences with others.
On October 5th and 6th, I attended my fourth No Barriers Summit in New York City. The No Barriers Summit is always a great chance to meet new people and push myself outside of my comfort zone. I took an improv course, learned about adaptive fencing techniques, and did a workout routine with two trainers. A concert on the last day, featuring artists including Mandy Harvey and Judah and the Lion, was a great way to end the summit. If you think you might be interested in attending next year’s summit, you can sign up for more information here.
I came back home from New York City to give a talk as a keynote speaker at my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University. I talked to around 70 students and professors about how I navigated the university as a student. I also spoke on a panel and answered questions about what I looked for in a school as a person with a disability and how I chose to attend VCU. It was a really engaging conversation and it was great to hear about other people’s experiences.
On October 10th, I also was a keynote speaker to students at my former high school, JR Tucker. I graduated high school almost ten years ago, and I talked to the class of 2019 about enjoying the rest of their time in high school and how using the RAPP (Resilient, Approachable, Persistent, Positive) mentality could really benefit them as they moved forward in high school and into their future. There were about 2,000 people in attendance, and I really appreciated getting a standing ovation at my former school.
The next day, I went to Buffalo, New York to attend an Ed Session. I presented two different programs to an audience, which included students with disabilities. The first program related to disability sensitivity training while the other program was my Be Your Own Wrecking Ball program, which highlights the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. Hearing from students with disabilities and getting to share my knowledge and experiences made the sessions really memorable.
I spoke at two schools in October: one in New York and one local to me in Virginia. First, I talked to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) high school students at Scarsdale High School in New York. Since those students could be making products in the future for people with disabilities, it was a great experience to interact with them. While I was at Scarsdale, I also talked with an adaptive PE class. After speaking at Scarsdale, I went to Woolridge Elementary School in Virginia and met with the school’s fourth and fifth graders. I talked about the idea of inclusion with them, and the students were all really excited and curious. I loved getting to hear their questions and I hope the experience will help normalize the idea of disability for those students.
Finally, I spoke at the Regional Assistive Technology Symposium on October 23rd. I talked to physical therapists and occupational therapists and explained through my perspective how to help a person with a disability find the right tools. As someone who has used assistive technology throughout my life, it was a great opportunity to share how assistive technology has helped me and how it can help to create inclusive environments.
It’s been a wild month, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep busy! As we approach the holidays, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to take it easy for a few days. Then, I’m looking forward to continuing my work and seeing what comes next! Make sure to stay connected with all of the 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC social media pages and website for updates on ongoing and future activities and episodes of the podcast.