A few weeks ago, I went on a short vacation with my family to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s such a beautiful place! When I was in Old San Juan, we saw a little hut with a fountain on the outside dedicated to a woman named George Wally Chavin.
The words on the plaque tell a sweet story. The plaque reads, “George Wally Chavin 1910-1966 Almost totally paralyzed, she excelled academically, performed athletically and in her prime swam 40 pool laps daily. During W.W.II, she met her love in this hut, then a military canteen. Serving as a volunteer Red Cross Hostess from her wheelchair. They were married and he neccessarily became her lifelong lifeguard, protector and lover. May Chavin’s beauty, intelligence and courage be an inspirational to all. Donated by Chavin’s Widower”
I love good, romantic stories!!! It’s especially cool for me to see a memorial set up for a person who used a wheelchair. So sweet!!!
In other news, I’m getting ready to work on book 5. My creativity is flowing again!
Good morning, Atlanta! Today is the first day the Abilities Expo. I’ve been up around 5 thinking of all the things I need to do to get ready for today. Print out signs, work on a powerpoint for my workshop on Saturday, listen to meditation tracks on my ipod, read a motivational book and the list keeps going. At 6 am, I went down to the hot tub with my ipod to listen to my meditation stuff. In the pool area, they were playing some old Frank Sinatra/Dean Martinesque music. YES!! It was like they knew I was coming down. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. YES!!
I felt a rush of excitement go through me. Then I thought, Am I ready to change the world? I think so. “I think so,” really? Hmmmm… I’ve been preparing for this for months and that was the response I got. Oh well. I was feeling really anxious/nervous yesterday, so I will take it.
I practiced reading Wendy on Wheels Takes a Stand to my nephew’s first grade class yesterday in Chattanooga, TN. I haven’t been to many private schools so the group was a little different than I am used to. It seemed like they had never seen or even heard of a child who uses a wheelchair before. There are probably many other classes like this. I really need to get out there more and visit as many schools as possible.
Someone has to teach the world to accept others regardless of abilities. Someone needs to show the world that people who use wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids or any thing of the sort are just like them. Someone needs motivate children with different abilities to have fun and enjoy life. That someone is me! And that someone would also love a cup from Starbucks or Caribou right now.
Recently, I went to see Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis with my sister, Mandy. The parking situation in downtown St. Louis was awful. I could either drop Mandy off at the front and have to walk a block or two by myself to the opera house, which isn’t exactly safe. The man directing parking said the only handicapped parking was at a meter. If I park at a meter, the curb is on the passenger side which means Mandy will not be able to transfer in to her chair. Even if Mandy had drove, I doubt the meter would allow enough space for her to transfer in to her wheelchair. As far as paying the meter, wouldn’t you think a wheelchair user should be allowed extra time to take care of their business? Considering the elevator or ramp maybe on the other side of the building, they may need extra time to get in and out of the car and the building and possibly to the restroom before the meter maid circles the block and joyously issues a parking ticket.
I tried to get in the “VIP” valet parking but was told I had to have a “VIP” placquard to use it. I guess our handicapped placquard didn’t make us VIP.
I found a lot for 15$ a block away by the Scottrade Center. We came up the block and the only accessible entrance was in the very front of the building so it was like we had to walk 3 blocks. ICK!! It was freezing cold.
The show was great. After the show, we made our way back to our car. The Peabody VIP valet had parked on the sidewalk so Mandy and I had to walk in the street, which didn’t seem very safe. I walked in front of Mandy’s chair so the oncoming traffic would see me first and not hit us. How horrible! Come on, St. Louis!! Come on, Peabody!!
I believe meters should be removed from the wheelchair parking spots and extra space allowed for the wheelchair to transfer out of the car. For special events, a wheelchair placquard should be considered VIP. That is the most safe way to accomodate individuals using wheelchairs.
For my friends who are wheelchair users, have you encountered this? How is the parking situation in your city? Any ideas on how to make it better?
I haven’t written a blog in a while. Things have been kind of crazy. Thursday, Marvin Elementary invited me to read to students as part of their Ability Awareness Day. It’s always fun to read Wendy on Wheels Goes to the Zoo to children in St. Louis since they recognize the St. Louis Zoo. It’s such a good book for ability awareness.
I went with my friend, Tom, from Warwick Photography last week to Tilles Park to take some new photos to put on my website and use for magazines and things. There were hundreds of little ones running all over the playground with shirts that said KECC (Kirkwood Early Childhood Center.) I had visited the KECC a couple weeks prior. Several children ran up to me and said, “You came and read to us.” I was amazed that four and five year olds remembered me.
The KECC graciously invited me to read to children as part of their annual “Hopathon.” Participants in the Hopathon had to hop to raise awareness of Muscular Dystrophy. One activity had children sit in wheelchairs and figure out how to manuever them. It was cool to see.
I was very impressed with Barretts Elementary School’s Ability Awareness Day a couple weeks ago. They had several different presenters speaking about different abilities. They even had a session with the school’s occupational therapist, teaching the students about different abilities and ways to be more productive. The group made a “Fidget tool,” to help them focus during class. Here’s a picture of the fidget tool.
Things have definitely changed. When I was in school, the teacher would take away the object I used to fidget. Then I couldn’t focus on what the teacher was saying. Now the schools realize fidgeting helps students pay attention and be more productive.
I LOVE to participate in Ability Awareness Days!!! We are educating them younger and younger. It’s outstanding!!!
In New York City a couple weeks ago, I attended a family services workshop in Brooklyn put on by Resources for Children with Special Needs. Gary Shulman did an outstanding job letting parents know about a wide range of programs out there to help them. If you are in NYC and need anything at all for your child, contact Resources for Children with Special Needs. I wish they were nationwide.
In other news, my husband and I are expecting our first child in November. We are so excited!!!
Sunday afternoon, I had my launch party for Wendy on Wheels Saves the Day at All Along Press. It was such a wonderful event. Thank you to everyone who came. I appreciate your support and love for Wendy on Wheels. Excellent food from Cherokee Street Catering. Everyone loved the barbequed chicken pizza!
The reading went well. I said thank you to my cousin, Dana for taking Elizabeth and me around Cardinal Glennon to see what the inside of a children’s hospital looks like. Dana is cartoonized on page 21 of Wendy on Wheels Saves the Day.
Things have been going well for Wendy on Wheels. I have some Ability Awareness Days lined up for April at some local schools. I’m working on setting up some schools visits in Peoria, IL and Chicago the third week in April.
I’m working on getting t-shirts made. They might be available to the general public if people are interested.
I was not chosen as a finalist in the Energizer Competition. I’m still excited I was nominated as a semifinalist. Thank you to everyone who voted for me!!!
I will have the cover for Wendy on Wheels Takes a Stand in a week or so.
I saw The Celebrity Apprentice on Sunday. Marlee did a outstanding job as project manager! Go Marlee!! Meat Loaf had a meltdown on Gary Busey. I couldn’t believe that. YIKES!!!