Dazzle this New Year's Eve with a New Makeup Look

by Kirsy Rodriguez
Kirsy Rodriguez
New Year's Eve, the day where many of us gather with our family and friends to say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new one with sparkles and lots of cheer. 

Ever since I was a little girl, this was one of my favorite celebrations. One of the reasons why is because my family had a tradition of ringing in the new year wearing a brand-new outfit. Growing up we didn't have much, so this tradition was always very special. Of course there were years when we didn't have enough money to buy new outfits, but my mom always managed to for us to have a little something. Whether that was a new hair clip for me or a simple T-shirt for my brothers, she always wanted us to at least have something that we'd never used before to welcome the new year. That was always special to me.

Tin Soldiers

By Amy Saffell
We live in a time when people with disabilities have increasingly more opportunities to live a normal life in a society that is beginning, slowly but surely, to see people for who they are instead of their means of mobility. People with disabilities have more opportunities than ever to explore recreation activities that are commonplace among active able-bodied people but that are just beginning to take root among those with disabilities. The new documentary film, “Tin Soldiers,” explores some of these forms of recreation, aiming to bring to light that these activities are for everyone of all abilities.
Alana Nichols

Director and producer Ben Duffy, has been making documentary films for nearly a decade. In making his first film, “We Are Skateboarders,” he learned about an organization teaching kids with disabilities to skate (Wheeling down the skate ramps in a skate park is the wheelchair equivalent.). He loved what he saw and made some friends who were also eager to make a film about skating for people with disabilities. This joining of cinematic forces interested in skateboarding is where “Tin Soldiers” began, but it turned out to only be the starting point. Ben and his team wanted to include people doing all kinds of adaptive recreation. The film not only highlights skating, but also surfing, triathlons, snow skiing, Crossfit, and powerlifting, to name a few. Paralympian wheelchair basketball and alpine skiing medalist, Alana Nichols, serves as the movie’s main star as an adaptive sports
advocate and experienced athlete. On the other end of the spectrum is 4 year old Abel Rose, born with spina bifida, who was just 2 years old at the beginning of filming. He has already participated in a wide range of activities in his young life, and the film shows that someone born with a disability now has infinite options to make leading an active life a lifelong goal from the very beginning.

In Love...with Sled Hockey!

 by Monica Quimby

Growing up in Turner, Maine, playing sports was a big part of my childhood. I loved dance, field hockey, kayaking, skiing, biking, softball, and track. I became paralyzed with an SCI (spinal cord injury) in a 2006 skiing accident and became a wheelchair user, but I continued to have an effervescent spirit for staying active.

The Shepherd Center, the SCI rehabilitation hospital that I attended in Atlanta, Georgia, was where I was introduced to adaptive sports. I remember the recreation therapists who helped me get into a kayak in the pool, on a four-wheeler and wheelchair fencing after being paralyzed for only a few months. I was so excited. I had warm tears trailing down my cheeks after each encounter in pure glee, knowing that I could still participate in activities that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Featured mobileWOMAN - Kitty Lunn

Over the years, Kitty Lunn’s name has surfaced off and on, especially in the field of dance. Last year, Kitty was a model for the Raw Beauty Project NYC and was an importance presence in their video, sharing her thoughts on beauty, sexuality and disability. She is truly a legend in her own time and we realized that we just had to feature this remarkable mobileWOMAN!

Ms. Lunn’s love affair with the dance began at the age of eight, when her grandmother took her to see the film The Red Shoes. By the time she was fifteen, she was dancing principal roles with the New Orleans Civic Ballet, where she made her professional debut in the title role in Coppelia.

Her work in New Orleans led to a scholarship to the Washington Ballet where she studied and worked with both Mary Day and the great ballet master, Edward Caton.  Numerous ballets in which she danced include Swan Lake, Giselle, Les Sylphide and The Nutcracker.  While in Washington, Ms. Lunn worked with such dance legends as Martha Graham, Agnes DeMille, Jose Limon and Eric Bruhn.

mobileWOMEN.org Gives Thanks :-)

In light of the fact it is the holidays, we realized that mobileWOMEN are not only grateful for the usual things such as good health, family, friends, etc. but we have some unique reasons for which to be thankful! Here are our top favorites:

Every pair of shoes we own looks absolutely brand new. This fact could explain why our closets are full of shoes given that they never wear out!

The V.I.P. spacious bathrooms! In fact, they are so coveted that they are often inhabited by those not in wheelchairs. “Sorry but I needed the extra space.” For what? Bathroom yoga?

Ms. Wheelchair America 2015: Alette Coble-Temple

by Amy Saffell

Alette Coble-Temple may have been apprehensive to participate in the Ms. Wheelchair California and Ms. Wheelchair America Pageants, but, as it turns out, life events had been pointing her in the direction of becoming a strong advocate for people with disabilities before she even knew what that really meant. Growing up with cerebral palsy in the 1970s, doctors and “professionals” gave her little chance of having any semblance of a productive life. Thankfully, Alette and her parents knew better. Required to attend a special education school at first, Alette and her family fought the school system so that she could attend the same school as all of the other kids in her neighborhood in fourth grade and was fully mainstreamed from then on, where she was only getting started in showing others how capable she truly is.
Alette Coble-Temple 

Alette gave the student commencement speech at her high school graduation and then attended Santa Clara University. She became the first student with a physical disability to live on campus and to join the Zeta Epsilon Chapter of the Delta Gamma Sorority. While at Santa Clara University, she founded the first campus support group for students with disabilities. She earned her Bachelors in Psychology and then attended John F. Kennedy University to obtain her master’s degree. She earned her master’s degree in 18 months and was named her graduating class’ Most Outstanding Student. She wasn’t done with her degrees quite yet! She went on to earn her doctoral degree in psychology at JFK University and was again named Most Outstanding Student. She is now a licensed psychologist and has worked in the areas of disability research and has provided clinical practice to a variety of populations. Last year, she returned to her alma mater and became a psychology professor at JFK University. She also serves as an independent evaluator for the Board of Parole Hearings for the State of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is part of numerous professional organizations and conventions as a keynote speaker. Yet, with all of her education, experience, and accolades, she still wasn’t sure that she was cut out to be a titleholder.

Amberley Snyder: A Woman Riding her Way through Adversity and Triumph

By Kara Aiello
Amberley Snyder

 I have had the pleasure of interviewing some amazing women since becoming a writer for MobileWOMEN.org, but 24 year old Amberley Snyder is a story I won’t soon forget.  Falling in love with horses as a small child, she now does rodeo professionally and has lived with a spinal cord injury since 2010. 

Her life’s passion with horses began at the age of three when she took weekly riding lessons in her home state of CA. But due to frustrations with her legs being too short to pass the saddle pad so she could kick the horse to go faster, she decided to leave horse- back riding and join two of her siblings (she’s one of six kids) in their sports and hobbies which included gymnastics, dance and karate.  Once she grew a bit, she went back to riding, and although CA did not have competitions for rodeos, she would take her pony Gabby out and set up cones to do her own barrel pattern.  At the age of seven, the family decided to move to Utah and Amberley would only move if her dad, who was a professional base-ball player, got her a barrel horse when there.  He followed through and she got her first horse Lacey.  Rodeo became a huge passion from the first time she competed and has stuck with her ever since. But this passion was challenged when on January 10th 2010, Amberley was in a car accident.  

MobileWOMEN Life Hacks

By Amy Saffell
MobileWOMEN columnists have banded together to bring you a list of our favorite life hacks…those random things in life we do to make living life in a chair a little easier. We hope that you read something worth trying in your own life. We’d love for you to share your own life hacks on our mobileWOMEN Facebook page so that other readers can learn from you, too!

     -    I’m a quad and use a battery operated letter opener. The letter slides through automatically and opens.
Electric Letter Opener
-          I wipe my wet hands after I wash them or come in from the rain on the back of my pants. No one will ever see it!
-          I always buy the drawstring trash bags so that I can put the tied drawstring over my handle bars on the back of my chair to pull it outside so that I can keep my hands free to push my chair and my lap free.
-          I clip my shopping bags at the mall into my chair’s seatbelt so that I don’t have to hold them and know that they’re safe. 

Functional Fashion: The Time IZ Now

by Amy Saffell
Every wheelchair user knows the perils of shopping for clothes. Clothes right off the rack at the local mall often either don’t fit well, don’t look right sitting down, or are hard to get on and off, leading either to expensive alterations or to just giving up and resorting to wearing clothes that the person really doesn’t want to wear. It often seems like designers don’t give a second thought to the different needs of people with disabilities. Thankfully, we see a glimmer of hope that fashionable clothing is becoming more functional for people with disabilities thanks to renowned Canadian fashion designer, Izzy Camilleri.

A Tour Guide to Switzerland for the “Traveler-on-Wheels”

by Aimee Hofmann

I was ecstatic when asked to share my travel experiences to the beautiful country of Switzerland. Then I thought to myself, “Where do I begin?” Switzerland is so much more than the home of gourmet cheeses and decadent chocolates, or the heavenly views of white Alps, charming chalets and dewy green meadows. 

Specifically, the city of Bern, the country’s capital, (a.k.a. the “Capital of Happiness” that recently topped the World Happiness index) has such a significant meaning to me. Not only is Bern my husband Daniel’s hometown, it is where my life went through a huge turning point and changed forever. The year of 2000, I decided to quit my job, leave my apartment in NYC, move to Bern to be with the love of my life and get married.  Daniel and I spent our first adventurous year together in this magical city. Since we have moved back to the States, we have been visiting Switzerland 1-2 times per year for the last 14 years; 9 years disabled, in a wheelchair, and 5 years as a mom. Over the years, I feel like I’ve experienced this city from different perspectives at various points in my life.  
The city of Bern

Wheels and Wags

By Emily Sciarretta

When I stopped walking due to rare conditions that continue to stump doctors to this day, I had no idea how my life would change.  After working and singing professionally and living a completely independent life, I went to stand, hit the ground, and never stood up again.  My paraplegia diagnosis came about 10 years ago on October 31st.

After all the brain surgeries, diagnoses and needing caregivers to help me with ADL's, I thought nobody would ever be interested in dating me. I opened up my mind, though, to dating a man in a chair. I hadn't done that yet. I met Frank through Judy, a woman who raises puppies for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). It took some time for me to adjust, as we are both disabled, but he was patient and gave me time. Frank had Bastien, a service dog through Canine Companions for Independence, and I had Carmel from the same organization. We had disability, service dogs and a very strong foundation of friendship that grew with time. I love laughing, and we have a similiar sense of humor, the same values and a strong belief and love of God and keeping Him first in our lives.

This Interior Designer Lives her Life Barrier Free

by Cheryl Price

For most of Marteen Moore’s life, she’s been inspired by design and art. As a child, Marteen spent summers in France, her mother’s native country. While there, she instantly fell in love with Europe’s architecture and beauty. Years later, in 1988, she started her own firm based in Las Vegas, Marteen Moore Interior Planning, where Marteen specializes in large custom homes. Marteen’s professional life was blossoming, and around the same time, she got married and started a family.

Marteen’s life unexpectedly changed years later. As many of us at mobilewomen are familiar with, Marteen became a paraplegic in 2007. She explains, “It started with a benign tumor wrapped around my spine at the T6 Level in 2001, when I woke up one morning with pain. It took about three months to figure it out what was causing it, and they sent me for an MRI. From the Radiologist, I was taken by ambulance for surgery. It appeared to be successful until 2006, when I started to feel numbness in my legs. They first thought it might be MS, but then realized the tumor had returned. I was immediately flown in a med vac plane to USC California for surgery. In the hospital, I developed a staph infection. After four more surgeries, between the staph infection and the surgeries, my spine was compromised and I became paralyzed.”
Interior designer Marteen Moore
While of course it took time to adjust her new life from this different vantage point of a wheelchair, Marteen ultimately persevered and resumed work. As she expresses, “We can do anything we set our minds to.” Her passion for interior design remains, and after renovating her home for accessibility and learning first-hand the important of accessible design elements in homes, Marteen now has a very important understanding of accessible design.

Taking a Stab at an Unknown Sport - The Exciting Strategy of Wheelchair Fencing!

By Kara Aiello
Fencer, Ellen Geddes
At age 27, Ellen Geddes is a fierce competitor, and after interviewing her before she headed off to Eger Hungary for the 2015 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships, I came away with that impression.  A fast and athletic sport for sure, wheelchair fencing is as strategic as for those without disabilities, except for the fact that the wheelchairs are hooked into a frame so the competitors cannot move. Other than that, says Ms. Geddes, the blade work is the same.
Getting introduced to the sport by chance, Ms. Geddes came to learn about Fencing after she was injured in a June 2011 car accident and now lives with a complete spinal cord injury level T-10. Upon her time in rehab in Atlanta, GA at the Shepherd Center, she was approached by the Shepherd Fencing Team Captain Dennis Aspy who was practicing at the same gym and asked her if she would like to hold a sword and stab some people. I guess one could say, Ms. Geddes was interested. So in 2012 she began her fencing career, qualified for her first Wheelchair World Championship Team, won her first medal in 2014 on the World Cup circuit in Montreal, and has not looked back.  
Geddes in action at 2015 Wheelchair World Championship, Photo Credit: Ginny Boydston/USA Fencing

Rolling Under the Tuscan Sun

By Wendy Crawford

View from our villa

Last year I had, let's just say, a landmark birthday. I realized that life has been flying by too quickly so I decided to plan a trip to a place that I have always wanted to visit – Tuscany. I happen to come across a villa that looked as though it was wheelchair accessible and the planning started from there. I thought that organizing the trip would be simple so I decided to plan it myself. Stating it was a tremendous amount of work to coordinate is a huge understatement, and next time I think it would be wise to use a travel agent specialized in working with people with disabilities (see resources below).

There were five of us traveling, leaving from three different airports and two countries, so just getting the timing down so we would all arrive close together was no picnic. We decided to fly to Florence, Italy and spend three days there first, since it was only an hour away from the villa that I had discovered.The only problem was that we could not get a direct flight from the U.S. so we had to fly first to Frankfurt, Germany and then had a four-hour layover there before our one-hour flight to Florence. We made certain that we had seats in a row on the plane where the armrest raised up so I could lie across my husband and friend's laps to get a break from sitting. It was fairly comfortable, surprisingly for me, but probably not for them! (Note: My doctor recommended that I take a baby aspirin (81 mg) once per day for the five days prior to my flight and one on the day of the flight. Also, I wore compression stockings, which I don't usually wear but I think was very beneficial on the long flight, as my feet only had minimal swelling.)

The Intersection of Disability and Menopause

By Gemma Fletcher

Menopause is a difficult time for most women, but for women with disabilities, there's more to the story. The symptoms and problems that go along with this stage of life are compounded by the fact that some disabilities and chronic diseases are affected by menopause in unexpected ways.

Women and Menopause

The most well-known symptom is the hot flashes that most menopausal women experience, but there are many others: depression and other emotional disturbances, migraines, palpitations, insomnia, weight fluctuation, night sweats, dizziness, memory loss, and bladder and urinary problems.
For women with disabilities, there are additional problems to contend with. Depending on the nature of her disability, a woman may experience more severe bladder problems, lower tolerance to heat, poor circulation, and skin problems. For women with chronic diseases, menopause may lead to an accelerated progress of disease or a worsening of symptoms.

Soaring on Ice for Gold!

By Kara Aiello

Kelsey DiClaudio has her eye on the prize.  At 18 years of age, she is looking to make the Paralympic Games in 2018 and head to South Korea playing Sled Hockey.  A fast paced game that follows the same rules and speed as stand up hockey, Kelsey and her teammates participate in a full contact sport that is modified on sleds and is tailored to fit the specific athlete perfectly.  As Kelsey speeds through her game, she uses two hockey sticks with picks to get around on the ice. The motion she says is a lot like skiing and she loves how fast and physical it is and how free she feels when she’s on the ice. Playing since the age of 8, Kelsey did not realize how important this sport would become and finds beauty in it that most may miss when watching the game played.

Although born without any signs of living with a disability, Kelsey says that as a newborn doctors discovered that she had a tethered spinal cord which is a neurological disorder caused by tissue attachments that limit the movement of the spinal cord within the spinal column. She had her first back surgery as a newborn which was a tethered cord release.  But after that and four more back surgeries to follow, her spinal cord kept re-tethering and Kelsey became more paralyzed from the waist down as each surgery was had. In the summer of 2012, Kelsey had her final back surgery which was to diminish back pain. “I was able to walk short distances before the surgery, but afterwards, ended up losing my ability to walk and the pain was not diminished.” Kelsey would tell the doctors before that surgery, that as long as she was able to play sled hockey she would be OK.  She’d even sneak out of the hospital at times to go play hockey and says it was the best medicine for helping her to get better moving forward.

Pregnancy After Paralysis

The desire to be a mother is an impulse that begins in childhood for most women. But once a spinal cord injury occurs, many women assume having a baby is just not in the cards for them. They are concerned that their bodies can’t handle a pregnancy, or that they can’t be a good parent because they’re in a wheelchair. However, the truth is that women with SCI are able to carry babies to term, and to become incredible mothers.

A new fact sheet on pregnancy and SCI that was just published by the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) highlights these facts:

§  Having a spinal cord injury does not affect your ability to naturally become pregnant or to carry and deliver a baby. It’s easy for a woman with paralysis to become pregnant.

§  Women with all levels of injury have had children following an SCI.

§  Your injury will not impact your baby. Your baby will develop normally, as all babies do.

§  Mothers with paralysis report that the positive effects of parenting usually outweigh the perceived difficulties.

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, advance planning and preparation will help prevent problems.  Consult your doctor to check out all drugs you take, because some medications are harmful to the fetus. It’s wise to get a full gynecological examination before you begin trying to get pregnant. Seek out an OB-GYN in your area who has had experience with mothers with SCI, and make sure your obstetrician consults with your rehab doctor on issues such as autonomic dysreflexia (AD), bowel and bladder management, pressure sores and how your injury will impact your pregnancy, labor and delivery. You also need a urology check-up beforehand, as the growing baby will put pressure on your bladder.

Most often, managing a pregnancy of a woman with SCI becomes a team effort among all her doctors and the members of her family. And once a baby is born, parenting becomes a team effort as well.

Reprinted with permission from FacingDisability.com


Love Lessons Learned by the Independent Woman

By Vicky Page

I admit that I never learned much about love.  I mean the love of your family comes easy for some of us, they’ve known you since you were a little kid.  Most have played with you, laughed with you changed your diapers and fought with you but still managed to adore you anyway.

Even some friendships come easily for me.  I meet people and I just click with them so easily, it’s like we’ve shared bologna sandwiches and secrets all of our lives.

Author, Vicky Page
The one thing I never fully grasped the concept of is romantic love.  I grew up with Cerebral Palsy causing tight muscles and without peripheral vision. (I can’t see out of the sides of my eyes.) I   have been in a wheelchair since I was five years old.  When I grew into that dating age, my former girlfriends wanted nothing to do with a girl who looked so different than them.  I was the only female in a wheelchair in my grade.The boys never gave me a second glance.

So my loving parents and sister told me to be the best person that I could despite these setbacks.  My father and teachers tutored me though high school, helping me to pass my classes.  My mother and sister helped out with tutoring in college too.  Mostly though, this life left little time for any foraying into the social world of dating.  I’ve never even been around the bases.  Most people have been to the kissing part or at least the hand holding part but I haven’t even been there,

10 Common Misconceptions about Women with Disabilities

By the mobileWOMEN.org Team

Misconception #1: We can't speak for ourselves.

Ever notice when you're in a restaurant and the hostess asks the person you are with, where you would like to sit? 

Guess what? We are able to communicate ourselves! Even if someone can’t speak, chances are they have found a way to express themselves. We lead active, productive lives and have no problem answering a question or finding another restaurant!

Misconception #2: If you're married, you must've married before you sustained your injury/disability.

No, actually we do date and have active social lives. We have plenty to offer in a relationship. Many can see our strengths, attributes and beauty!

Misconception #3: Women with disabilities don’t have sex.

We can. We do. We like.

Women with disabilities have the same needs and desires as everyone else. They are also used to being creative and thinking outside-the-box, so watch out!

Cruising My Way Through Beautiful Alaska - A Bucket List Adventure

By Kara Aiello

Recently I took the trip of a lifetime through the beautiful state of Alaska.  I would definitely say this was a bucket list dream as I have always wanted to visit this region of the country. And what better way to do so than on a Carnival Cruise - a party ship no less.  My adventures began in Seattle Washington when my good friend Lisa and I landed and stayed overnight in this great city. I was in Seattle many years before and have family here, so it was nice to get back and see what was up with this happening place.

Although only in Seattle one night, we made do with the time we had here. We were blessed with rare sunny warm weather that would follow us throughout most of the trip and so took advantage after a very filling breakfast by walking and rolling around town and visiting The Chuhuly Glass Sculpture Museum that was a sight to behold.  I have always loved glass sculptures more than any other, and found this place to be my icing on the cake. The sculptures were beautiful, large and every color one could think of.  Blues, purples, pinks and blended colors that hypnotized took my breath away. We stayed only an hour, but the photos I took will always be a welcome to revisit when I look at them years to come.

Okay, Let’s Talk Wheelchairs and Being Overweight

By Alicia Reagan

Recently, I saw the article about the two ladies at the ball game in power chairs who were blocking the little boy in a wheelchair. There were a wide array of opinions and comments on that article!
I have never been skinny. My entire life, this girl has carried meat on her bones! I married and started having children. Because I knew that I always carried extra weight, I never gained more than 25 pounds for any of my pregnancies. That is saying a lot because I have had 6 full term pregnancies! After each child was born, I would lose the weight very quickly. Since my marriage 16 years ago, I have stayed in a  weight range about 15 pounds heavier or lighter of my wedding weight. Until….March 12, 2009.

In 2009, I contracted Transverse Myelitis and was left permanently paralyzed. At that time, I was 5 months pregnant with my last baby. I had the same weight gain of about 20 pounds during that pregnancy, but when it came time to take it off it was a whole new ballgame for me. I was now in a wheelchair.

Am I Courageous or Just Out of My Mind?

By Anakalia Cronrod


Change has been in the air for what feels like an eternity. With no clear signs on destination, “putting out my feelers” has become the plan of action. What does this mean? Research, research, and more research on what mysteries exist in the wild blue yonder.  Heading down the highway to check out places and talk to new faces. All it takes is one door of opportunity to open which cries “enter” as I venture into the unknown. At the tender age of sixty four and unsettled since leaving Hawaii in 2004, where to bed down for the rest of my life and perhaps have a bit more help has not been revealed yet. Though the body may lose RPM's, my spirit still revs at high amperage within me.

I recently traveled in my minivan for three weeks looking where to idle my engine with both scooter and wheelchair accompanying me. I had visited the rural community of Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, a year ago though wasn’t sure if it was appropriate. This became my destination once again to check out my heart’s desire to be on a farm. Organic gardening, grass fed cattle, organic pork, contented chickens with the orangest yolks I’ve ever seen, pecan and grape orchards, a pecan factory, and a bakery shipping mail order delights around the world. A new handicapped accessible building for visitors had been constructed with concrete floors good for scooting, wide hallways and doorways in the four thousand or so square foot housing offering room to move. Of course, outside the terrain had no concrete for my mobility wheels and only sand, dirt and grass.

Why Self Esteem is the First Ingredient to a Positive Relationship

By Christinne Rudd

Relationships and intimacy require a level of risk to be taken by both parties. The risk that you're taking is to expose your feelings and other personal things about yourself to someone else. In order to do that and fully enjoy the result of a successful relationship, you have to know your self-worth and posses positive self esteem. For someone with a disability, this may be difficult for a myriad of reasons, depending on their personal circumstances but this really doesn't have to be the case at all. When our children are young, one of the first indicators of their growth and development is how they interact with others. It also seems to be a gauge to our success as parents. As I've read in many articles on parenting, the first place our kids learn acceptable behaviors and other levels of interaction is at home.

Christinne Rudd & her son
This is also true of their self-esteem and how they view others. If parents aren't confident in their roles, and more importantly in themselves, our kids are the first to know it.  Along the same lines, the feedback they receive from their parents on self-image and acceptable behaviors comes from us, their first, and in my opinion, most important teachers. When raising kids with disabilities, the territory may seem new to you , even if you have other children. Kids with disabilities need the same positive role models and influences as children with out disabilities. Just because someone has a disability doesn't mean they can't or don't understand what they're being taught or what they see being modeled by their parents. Even if your children have some sort of intellectual disability, plenty of material exists and professionals are available to help along the way. We're no longer in archaic times where we might need to invent the wheel on different aspects of getting a message to a child.

mobileWOMEN In the Workforce

By Amy Saffell
Amy Saffell

We’ve all seen the statistics. People with disabilities traditionally are underrepresented in the workforce, and, just like people without disabilities, women with disabilities have an even lower employment rate than men. Maybe you’ve contemplated getting into the workforce but believed that you couldn’t do it…that you don’t have the skills to offer, that your disability would get in the way physically or attitudinally, or that your state benefits wouldn’t allow it. Five women, including myself, want to tell you that those concerns can all be overcome. While not every person is suited for every job, there are plenty of types of jobs, whether they’re paying or volunteer, that people with disabilities can do. If you have been contemplating the feasibility of joining the workforce or volunteering, let the experiences of our panel of working women with disabilities encourage and inform you based on their real world experiences.

A Multitude of Job Possibilities

There are many jobs that people with disabilities can do, both inside and outside of the home. I have a full time job at a record label in sales, marketing, and customer service. Having a job in an office allows me a stable work environment where I can set up my surroundings to fit my needs. On the side, I also am a programming and marketing coordinator for a local sports and independence program for kids who use wheelchairs. I work from home, often on the computer. Working from home with the use of technology is another great option for people with disabilities because it allows flexible work hours and the best use of technology that fits the ability of the user.  As I have also found by working with kids who are wheelchair users and their families, many times, firsthand knowledge of life with a disability is an asset to certain fields.

Jenny Smith
Jenny Smith has worked in Member Care with a nonprofit organization. Her employer has 340 workers who live in roughly 40 different countries. She helps train, counsel, support, encourage, and debrief workers as they live and work in a cross-cultural setting with many stressors.  She also worked part-time in college and grad school, and then after she graduated with her Master’s Degree, she taught K-5 English As A Second Language for one year before working for a non-profit organization for eight years that distributed wheelchairs in developing countries.

Searching for Raw Beauty LA Models - Spearheaded by Angela Rockwood

Angela Rockwood's photo for Raw Beauty NYC

Angela Rockwood,actress, model, Push Girls star, (not to mention producer!) was also a model for Raw Beauty NYC which was unveiled on September 20, 2014 at ACA Galleries in Chelsea to benefit the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. The mobileWOMAN extraordinaire was inspired to bring the project to her city, Los Angeles.

‘’Life is a gift and what we do with our life is our gift back to the world, to others and to ourselves. ‘’Raw Beauty’’ is a platform that embodies this mission effortlessly by allowing a woman to share her life’s journey through words, empower others profoundly with a photograph and to make a shift within her being from the process of embracing her inner essence to share with the world. This is a powerful and empowering movement that needs to be worldwide, but first we share it in the City of Angels, Los Angeles.’’, shares Angela.

As an official Ambassador of the Raw Beauty Project, Angela will spearhead the event along with Raw Beauty NYC co-chairwomen, Dr. Susan Solman and Wendy Crawford, founder of mobileWOMEN.org.

Paralympian Alana Nichols Rides the Wave of Success

by Cheryl Price

We all know Alana Nichols as a Paralympic basketball player and alpine skier. You’ve most certainly watched clips of her competing in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Games, as well as the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games. You may even recognize the 32-year-old New Mexico native from her awesome segment on “Conan” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hngHluQe2o). If you follow her on Facebook, then you are surely in awe of her daily adventures that span the world.

But no matter how you’ve been introduced to Alana – be it via Internet or TV, or even in person -- then the only fact that matters is that you’ve somehow been in the presence of greatness. After all, Alana is the first American female athlete to win gold medals in both summer and winter Paralympic/Olympic Games. Alana is also a three-time ESPY Nominee. Moreover, in May of 2014, Alana was inducted into Warner Brothers’ “Superman Hall of Heroes” in the inaugural class of real-life heroes.

The Roll on Capitol Hill: An Adventure of a Life Time

By Kara Aiello
Kara Aiello, Ready to Roll on Capitol Hill

What an amazing time I had with the Roll on Capitol Hill 2015 in Washington DC in early June. Coming to this event I had no idea what to expect and have not done advocacy work from a political stand point so this was an eye opening experience.  I remember the daunting feeling I had on day one when I sat with my fellow advocates going through the important topics of discussion that would be shared and advocated the following day on The Hill. Issues of Complex Rehab Technology and Equal Access to Transportation were the main hot spots of discussion along with not cutting Medicaid Funding to help keep people at home and not in nursing homes. As the day came to an end, I found myself overwhelmed with the load of information but determined to bring it to life the next day when meeting with my representatives. 

It was a fascinating experience going to the Capital. We saw many groups from dietitians advocating for better health and nutrition for the American public and family members from California advocating for affordable housing regarding adults with intellectual disabilities. And then there was us, the United Spinal Association from many corners of the U.S. life experiences and disabilities (and without as well) uniting in a common desire to have our voices heard, that we matter, and can impact our world for the better if given that important chance.   

Small Business Grant Available to mobileEntrepreneurs!

by Rich McIver

Did you know that half of all US private-sector workers and 70% of all new jobs are generated by small businesses? Yet despite our nation's collective concern about unemployment and the decline of the middle class, we as a nation have very few channels through which individuals can obtain funding for their business.  And those channels that do exist; banking, grants, angel funding and private equity communities, consistently underfund startups by individuals with disabilities.

To help address that disparity, Merchant Negotiators (https://MerchantNegotiators.com) has created an annual Small Business Grant, which offers $2,500 to deserving entrepreneurs from underrepresented entrepreneurial communities, is particularly needed.

We are Fortunate

by Katie Rodriguez Banister
I hope you realize how lucky you are to be alive, here and now.  You should value every experience regardless of your situation. Everything is a learning opportunity; both perceived good and bad or light and dark.  My friend Blindcat, yes he is, and I wrote “Lucky Soul,” to help others appreciate the present because yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. 

Many of us fluctuate between depression and anxiety.  I was diagnosed with depression about a month and a half post injury.  I was often so sad I couldn’t sleep.  But with the help of my psycho-therapist and a medicine that allows me to sleep, the old Katie came back and I haven’t stopped since.  The past has no power over me.  Yes, I lament my losses from time to time but I can pull myself out of it much easier now.

Anxiety can be just as debilitating.  I know a young woman who has problems leaving her home and making new friends.  She’s often more paralyzed than I am.

I want you to be aware of the following. If you can read this it means you are alive and can breathe, that you have access to a computer or phone, you have experienced some form education, and if you’re like me you have survived an accident or health challenge that you continue to strive to overcome.