by Kara Aiello
|mobileWOMEN.org writer, Kara Aiello|
Dance is a passion that I found early on and has been a part of my make up for over two decades now. Another passion, writing, is something that came to me by chance and led me to meeting and working for Wendy Crawford, founder of mobileWOMEN.org, and many other sites to express my calling.
During my years of school even up to getting a certificate in Therapeutic Recreation, I was never a number one fan of test taking. It’s not that I would end up with poor results, I just always felt a particular anxiety to all things unknown in the world of test taking. But writing papers for school was far more enjoyable to me and is a big reason that I ended up getting an MSW in social work as I didn’t have to sit for any exams. Well, not until I had to take my LSW for social work and that was a humdinger of an exam. Anyway, I loved writing and even with endless hours of research and writing 20 to 30 pages for a particular class, it was still something I had in the palm of my hands and could piece together a paper that sang my creativity and style even if it had to be a particular format for a graduate class. That confidence for writing eventually opened some doors when back in early 2000’s I was asked by the Philadelphia Inquirer to write an article on body image for Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania in which I was state coordinator. Having written this first article, it opened doors for more writing gigs over the next few years which included writing about dance and current events pieces that took place in the Philadelphia area.
During the time of graduating with my masters in social work, I was asked by the Philadelphia Inquirer to write an article on disability and travel. This would be a big piece that included interviewing fellow travelers with disabilities, finding sites that would accommodate those who wanted to travel and my own travel experiences as well. But having just completed grad school with endless hours of reading and writing papers, my writing light bulb was burned out and I sadly let this great opportunity slip away. I felt so bad about not pursuing the article that it stayed with me for years to come. Until one day when I was away from the work force and trying to rediscover who I am and what I want to do; I decided to get back into writing. This was inspired to me by journalists I have come to admire, one of whom is Richard Engle from NBC News. Their passion for writing and reporting on world events and people that are sometimes ignored jump started my own inner journalist (a lay one for sure ha! ha!) and my passion for writing was reborn. It’s not just that I became a writer again, I wanted to be a writer with purpose and give voice to a group that tends to be ignored in their own right; those with disabilities. Through writing, I have found confidence and purpose to tell people’s stories and open up new worlds for readers hoping to learn something new.
My first article, which was published in Life in Action Magazine, geared towards readers with disabilities was about a dog sled trip I took to northern Montana back in 2011 and acted as a travel adventure story. Not long after that, a good friend, Alana Mauger, at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) offered me a freelance position as a writer in which I got to highlight exciting happenings on MCCC’s campus. One special event that occurred during my time as a writer there was the 50th anniversary of the college and the invitation to interview amazing students as well as faculty whom have graced the halls of MCCC for decades. I also had the honor of interviewing a film crew that put together a 50th anniversary documentary of the campus. This opportunity and experience opened more doors for me and an inner confidence to branch out and expose my love of writing to other organizations. One in particular, mobileWOMEN.org, came about by chance when I attended a seminar for social work and at the end of the conference, was approached by a woman who told me about this great site that reaches out to women with disabilities and invited me to check it out. Of course I did and the rest is history as they say. Writing for mobileWOMEN.org has allowed me to meet great women with disabilities both near and far. I was also introduced to the Raw Beauty Project. It has also allowed me to interview many interesting women such as Shannon Divido, a comedian in Philadelphia, Maysoon Zayid, another comedian and disabilities activist from the great state of New Jersey, and Holly Harrar who is running for Miss Pennsylvania this June and is a disabilities activist as well. I have interviewed aspiring athletes who are setting their sights on future Paralympics games. Ellen Geddes who takes part in Wheelchair Fencing, Katherine Beattie, who using her wheelchair engages in extreme sports and Amberley Snyder, an amazing woman, who was injured in a car accident and has continued her love of riding and her dream of being a serious rodeo competitor. While I live out my dream as a writer, I get to interview many amazing people living out their dreams as well.
Since writing for mobileWOMEN.org, I have also written for United Spinal Association, which I am a member and writer, and through this organization wrote about my experience with The Roll on Capitol Hill that took place last summer in Washington D.C. I had a piece featured in New Mobility Magazine about our city of Brotherly Love, its sites, tastes and sounds, and all that is accessible for every visitor. And recently I was approached by the wonderful owner of the Mainland Inn restaurant who is planning on writing her own story and would like me to edit it at some point.