"From the Heart" – My Journey to TEDx

By Wendy Crawford
Back in late February of this year, I received a phone call from my sister-in-law, excited because she had recommended that I be a speaker at a TEDx, Traverse City, Michigan. The night before, she had been at a party and met a previous speaker and he was looking for potential nominees. Although, I appreciated her enthusiasm and support, I was wondering what was expected of me and could I pull it off. For those of you not familiar, TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. Depending on the location, some TEDx conferences recruit speakers through nominations and others may nominate themselves but must go through a rigorous process to be chosen.

After sending my biography and going through three different interviews over the phone, I was accepted as a speaker. I was so honored but at the same time, I had mixed emotions as I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and the anxiety started to kick in. Two of the people that interviewed me had been previous speakers and both had said that it was an amazing experience but also pushed them to their limits. Both of these men were heads of huge companies and so I thought if it was a stretch for them, how was I going to do this? I did public speaking years ago when I was first injured as I was a victim of a drunk driving accident but in a way, that was easier because I was just telling my story to students and community groups and answering questions. This was different as I was speaking with incredible movers and shakers AND I was to create something that shifted the way people think. I'm not an astronaut discussing my latest voyage to another planet nor a scientist who has created a world changing invention!

How Do You…Adapt When You Travel?

By Amy Saffel
mobileWOMEN.org Contributor, Amy Saffell

We’re starting a new series at mobileWOMEN.org! We have a leadership team of experienced women chair users who want to pass on some of our wisdom that we’ve gained over the years about how to successfully live life from our chairs. Maybe you’re new to using a chair and wonder just how it’s truly possible to do the things that you once enjoyed. Or maybe you’re a longtime chair user. It’s always surprising to me that despite being in a chair for over 30 years, I get stuck in a rut with my old way of doing things and can always learn a new way of doing something from someone else. We hope for you, too, that these articles are helpful. We’re also not naïve enough to think that we have all of the answers. Share your tips on our Facebook page, and feel free to ask your own “How do you…?” questions for future articles.
Since it’s summertime when many people are eager to travel, I posed the question, “How do you adapt when you travel?”. You can build a routine based on familiar surroundings of your home, but all of that goes out the window when you travel and are somewhere totally new. People with disabilities should feel free to see the world, in whatever way personally possible, and here are some tips for doing it.

Travel Should Be Inclusive - Not Exclusive

By Tarita Davenock

Some of us are lucky enough to fall into careers that we love, where just coming to work is a joyful part of the day. Fewer have been purposeful, have seized the brass ring and gotten into those careers through hard work, perseverance and, yes, even a little bit of luck. The path to Tarita Davenock’s dream career was decided by an entirely different kind of luck. A social worker whose specialty was in helping children and adults with special needs, she had stability; her BAs in English and Psychology ensured the future of that stability. In fact, as a candidate for a Master’s Degree, all she needed was a bit of time and some creative budgeting and the world, a world she had traveled extensively, would be her oyster.

The Power of Dance

By Kara Aiello

Dance is an art form that only the human body can express. Throughout the world, one sees dance as an expression to its culture, identity and visual beauty.  And when it is shared, we get a richer understanding of the world around us. Because of this, I feel dance can teach us about possibilities and help break stereotypes and that certainly happens when people with disabilities take to the dance floor.

I began my journey into dance many, many moons ago, also known as the early 1990’s when my Aunt Arlene, who lives in Grosse Pointe MI, saw a dance demonstration that utilized sit down and stand up dancers. The lead was Mary Verdi-Fletcher, a woman born with Spina Bifida and who uses a wheelchair for mobility.  Learning the art of dance on her own, she paralleled her siblings dance moves using her chair and made it her own. Eventually, she would form Dancing Wheels and marriage it with the Cleveland School of Ballet, an organization that invites dancers of all abilities to come during the summer for a week and learn to dance.