Up Close & Personal with Tamara Mena

We recently were fortunate to have the opportunity to get up close and personal with model, television host, spokesperson and motivational speaker, Tamara Mena. Among many projects, Tamara hosts ‘Beauty on Wheels’ (BOW) for ‘Life con Acento LATV’. BOW is a show that covers trends and events in beauty and fashion. It's the first show of it's kind to have a host that uses a wheelchair, breaking barriers in the industry.

Read about this dynamic woman and her journey from not one, but two tragedies, to a meaningful life and career.

Tamara intimately shares, in her own words:

"It’s terrible to go from one day feeling like a super woman, living in my own place in San Diego, an independent 19-year-old and, in seconds, all my dreams and goals in life with my boyfriend were shattered, just like that… Even more, I went from feeling so powerful, to helpless… in seconds.
I couldn’t even do the most basic things for myself. No, I’m not talking about walking here… I’m talking about eating, about breathing, or speaking for myself. My lungs collapsed due to the roof of the taxicab collapsing on top of me, literally, and I had to rely on a ventilator for my breathing and I could not eat nor speak for sometime. It was so difficult and painful. I didn't know what had happened and couldn't even communicate.

As a result of this freaky car accident, I broke my back, sustained a spinal cord injury which left me paralyzed from mid-chest down. I fractured numerous bones, but I was, most of all, heartbroken... as my boyfriend of three years was, unfortunately, killed in the accident. He didn’t make it, but he saved my life.
I was heartbroken for all my hopes, at that moment in my life, were gone.

As painful as it was to lose someone so close to me in that accident, at the same time, I realized that I had to be thankful for the amazing opportunity to go forward in life, regardless of the fact that I would no longer be able to walk. Two people unfortunately did not make it, the taxi driver and Patrick, but I was lucky enough to survive and I was going to try to do my best in life, no matter what. I thought the best tribute to my late boyfriend, was that I could show my gratitude for life.

Recap of The White House Forum on the Civil Rights of Parents with Disabilities

By Dr. Kara Ayers, Associate Director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

On May 5, 2016, the White House held a Forum on the Civil Rights of Parents with Disabilities. The event commemorated the release of a new toolkit from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation as well as a re-release of the landmark Rocking the Cradle report from the National Council on Disability. The re-release includes updated photos, infographics, and a few additional examples of recent case outcomes. 
The Forum's panel:
Dr. Kara Ayers, 
Associate Director of
the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities;

Director of the National Centers for
 Independent Living (NCIL)
 Kelly Buckland;
Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eve Hill

The morning session of the forum included panelists representing a wide range of perspectives related to parenting with a disability. The panels discussed what social, programmatic, and policy changes are needed to better support the right to parent. The forum was followed by an afternoon strategy session for leaders from around the country to discuss next steps to build on the momentum around this important topic. In the evening, policy-makers, advocates, parents with disabilities, and their allies joined to celebrate the work around parenting with a reception hosted by the Reeve Foundation.
Co-founders of the Disabled Parenting Project:Robyn Powell, Kara Ayers and Erin Andrews

Signs that You May Have NOT Made the Best Choice in Your Personal Aide

By mobileWOMEN

Many of us rely on others to help us with our daily activities, whether it be our personal care, housework, transportation, etc. Their work is vital, valuable and, for some of us, absolutely necessary in order to live healthy, productive lives. Once we find the right aide, the world is lifted from our shoulders and we can then relax and focus on whatever is important to us. We should never underestimate their importance and be grateful every day for their dedication, hard work, and patience.

The unfortunate part is that it is not always easy (okay, to be honest, it is extremely difficult) to find the right helper who can meet our needs. More often than not, the person does seem like the right match in the beginning, but the situation can go south rather quickly! We spoke to some mobileWOMEN and compiled our top 10 list of “so crazy that they are comical” indicators that the wrong helper was hired. In these cases, these mobileWOMEN’s radar completely malfunctioned and a bad decision was definitely made when hiring them. Note: All of the situations below are TRUE and, yes, actually happened. Thankfully, they refer to different people.

I realize that I may have not chosen the best helper when:
  • My mother and I went to a restaurant with my new helper and she pulled out a switchblade and proceeded to carve her initials into the table!