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December 22, 2015

My Florida Adventure

Hello. This is Adventure Girl again writing another blog entry. And who can forget that spaghetti and cheese I had? We had breakfast before going to see the dolphins at Dolphin Research Center in the Grassy Keys. We went in the ocean and weren't afraid of the dolphins. The dolphins names were Sandy and AJ. They put on a show for us. It was an hour long drive. We did the dolphin dip and I had on a life jacket, standing on a platform, it was perfect weather for it. Doug was a friendly teacher. We learned many things about dolphins and protecting the ocean.
Before having dinner at Benihana, we took pictures by the sea for sunset. We had Japanese food for dinner and the chefs were doing cooking tricks. They were making me and others laugh a lot! The food was outrageous and delicious! What will Mike and Sarah think? There are lots of friendly people and families here in  the sunshine state.

Then we spent our last night in Key West having dessert at the bar and listening to live music, Gerd Rube. And because it was my moms birthday, it brought me to tears due to the song "Key West Sunset".

We went back to the resort to get ready for Fort Lauderdale tomorrow and shop for souvenirs. It will be another 4 hour drive we will stop for lunch and breaks, then check into another hotel. During our stay, we will check out everything Fort Lauderdale has to offer; the beach, breakfast, lunch, dinner, boat ride to the Everglades, sight seeing, and buy more souvenirs,  and check out the Polynesian restaurant and show at Mai Kai. Maybe we will see more Santa, elves and reindeers! This December is filled with holiday lights and Christmas trees. By the time the trip is over, we will be celebrating Christmas with family and friends because it will be over before we know it and celebrate New Years! What more can we ask for? What will we have for breakfast, lunch and dinner? We love surprises! And more people to meet and mingle with!

Next February will be 4 years since my dad passed away but that hasn't stopped me from being the best traveler with Leisure Trax! Who's ready for more swimming like I am? I hope my experience will lift everyone's spirit and inspire others. You see Leisure Trax trips costs a lot of money and it's not easy. But it's worth the wait for people to have fun times together! It may be cold in New York in the winter but in Florida it isn't, it's always summer elsewhere.

Everywhere we go we pay tips. What can be more fun and awesome than that? Besides me climbing towers and zip lining we participate in everything and trying new things. We should always think positive not negative. If I can do it so can you!

The past few weeks we've been dealing with tragedy. When will we ever bring peace to this hurting world? We may never know of course.

I can't wait for what's in store for me and my friends, don't you think?

We'll gotta run, but until the next blog entry, I'm saying: "farewell, thank you, goodbye and au revoir, xoxo!"
Love and best wishes,

Melanie, aka Adventure Girl

First article


November 15, 2014

So Who's Normal?

I was born with Spina Bifida about 28 years ago. Back then, not much was known about my "disability." The doctor scared both my parents by telling them there was a 50/50 chance I'd even survive. I think they were even given the option of abortion and, thankfully, passed on it.

Since then, I've been proving doctors wrong left and right. I was never treated by my family like a fragile china doll with a disability. I even swung on the rope in gym with a dislocated hip in elementary school. Not that my parents found out about that until after ... but I digress. So I guess you could say that not only have I always seen beyond my disability, but I've never really seen myself as disabled or limited in any way in the first place. Is that a bit dangerous and reckless? Sure. But as they say: "well behaved women rarely make history."

We all have something that's different about ourselves from the next person. In society today, that's usually taboo. Everyone is always quick to change aspects of themselves physically or internally, for the sake of trying to "fit in" with this small little box that other people use to classify them as "normal." I'm not claustrophobic, but that would make ANYONE feel suffocated. No thanks! I embrace my weird tendencies that actually have nothing to do with my wheelchair. Like laughing at my own jokes.

What, you mean wheelies are weird? Sorry, you're missing out then! I don't ever want or need to change for anyone. I'm frequently approached and asked if I ever want to walk and people pray for me left and right to be "healed." My view is this. God doesn't make mistakes. I am the way I am for a reason. If not for the fact that I don't want to have a ninth surgery and the memories I have of walking with a walker and braces as a kid almost give me PTSD, then maybe because I'm just happy how I am. And don't think I don't enjoy the perks of this life ... front of the line in most places, front row seats at most arenas and ... a private lesson with Val Chmerkovskiy from Dance With Me USA and "Dancing With The Stars." What more could a girl want? And if you say, 'Derek,' you can just stop reading right now! *kidding ... kind of.*

I know my purpose is to lead people to look beyond the physical (although, I'm having a good hair day today ... in case you were wondering.) Who I really am is a woman looking to make a difference and show people that the only limits there really are, are the ones we put on ourselves. Frankly, it's so much fun to push past the limits other people put on you. You get to smile sweetly (*cough* sarcastically), say I told you so and (more importantly) inspire a heck of a lot of people along the way. At least I hope to.

First article

Tags: Advocacy; Person Centered

Bagging groceries (almost lost to technology which allows customers to scan and bag their own items), mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms or assembling office supplies in factories ... these are a few types of jobs available to people in the disability community.

That level of work is expected of them. Now some people in the community really thrive at these jobs and that's wonderful for them. However, not everyone finds lasting purpose in doing that work. The usual attitude to this notion is "at least they have a job."

Outside of these types of jobs, there are very few options offered to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). During the past few posts, I have addressed a theme of treating every disability (regardless of its complexity) and every person who has it the same. This certainly extends to employment as well.

Relying on these outdated assumptions (like everyone with autism is low functioning, for example) is keeping people with disabilities from being part of the workforce and that is not only depriving them of finding purpose in their lives, but also is keeping employers from untapped potential. The end result if unchanged will continue to rob the national workforce of much needed diversity.

Taking a moment to address the attitude mentioned above, people should be less critical about what type of work they do and be thankful to have a job! Times are tough and I get that. However, even if times were not so tough in the country right now, those jobs would still be the norm for people with IDD. This cultural assumption has been around for quite some time. Any accommodation to aid in doing work is not seen as reasonable, but rather an "undue hardship." Basically, it's great expectations or none at all. Take it or leave it.

Some employers embrace hiring people with disabilities and doing things differently. They recognize that diversity in the workforce allows the mission and vision of their company to expand. Everyone has something to offer and just because it may take someone a bit longer to do something or if they do it differently should not be an impediment to their employment. Everyone deserves a chance to become a productive partner in the community and it is through that chance that untapped and hidden potential can be fully realized and appreciated.

Only 13 percent of the IDD community in New York is employed at this time and such a low number is certainly a cause for concern. The great expectation that should be on the forefront of every employer's mind is that untapped potential should not be wasted.

First article

Tags: Employment

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