I grew up in Chicago IL, and was diagnosed with a learning disability at an early age. Me and my brother both struggled with some things while in school, like reading and math. This made some people think that we would never make a full purpose in life, like holding down a job and having a social life, marriage, and kids. But with support from family – my mom, dad and grandmother and true friends – I graduated from high school, found work and got married and had a daughter in Chicago. I moved to Alabama in 1999 and lived there for 15 years where I got involved in self-advocacy through People First of Alabama and (SABE) – Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered. That led me to moving here to Arkansas and taking the job as the Self-Advocate Coordinator, where I’ve been for 4 years. I have been going around the regions here in Arkansas to help rebuild the self-advocate network in our state. I help advocates with learning disabilities stand up and speak up for themselves and others.
I’ve learned a lot by doing this work as Self-Advocate Coordinator and being a part of the self-advocate movement. The Bill of Rights may say we all are created equal, but many people, especially ones with some form of disability, are treated unjustly and unfairly. Some people refuse to look at the abilities of others and just look at the disabilities. I believe that by showing and helping others with disabilities learn to speak and stand up for themselves, that they can make a change in people’s lives. We need people who are willing to look past the disabilities and look at the abilities that we all have in us.