There was a wonderful workshop about the ADA and other laws that concern Americans with disabilities. I learned SO much in this workshop about just what ADA code is and how incredibly specific it is. Places I thought were accessible according to ADA are not. Places I thought never could be accessible, should be. There is a common saying around here about historical buildings; "grandfather'd in". It is the idea that if a building was built before ADA went into effect it is not required to comply with the law. It is the idea that historical places do not need to me accessible to people with disabilities simply because they are historic.
I learned that this is very simply NOT true. There are different rules for historical buildings, but they CAN and SHOULD be made accessible.
I cannot tell you (thought I suppose I am telling you) how much this blew my mind. Sitting in that room I could list so many places I could never get to and had no hopes of changing. I thought I couldn't make a difference. But now that I know the law and people who are good at enforcing that law? Well, I have a lot of letters to write.
Another workshop that stands out in my mind was the 'you can lead, but can you follow?' workshop. It was taught by a ballroom dancer, and she carried the metaphor of dance and leadership through the workshop. It was interesting, because it is our job to be leaders in our communities. But we also need to know how to be good followers. It is an important skill to learn. Every relationship is give and take. Sometimes you lead; sometimes you support the other person leading. The dace metaphor was an apt one.
I may have also learned a few moves of the marenge. One, two, three, four!
Sorry I don't have many photos. Was too busy to take pictures!
Let's talk about judging.
I'll start by saying I guess I could have done a lot better. I had prepared myself too. Looking back, there are some questions I would have answered differently. There are things I would have elaborated on. But really? I did the best I could do with what I was given. You go into that room and there are five judges behind a table, and all you can do is be yourself. That's what I did. Myself is a little weird. Myself is passionate and dedicated. Myself is a nerd and a mom and a lover of fashion and make up and tea. Came down to it, I was not the best candidate to be Ms. Wheelchair America.
The competition was incredible. Every single woman there was amazing. Seriously amazing. I felt like I had done so little compared to their amazing credentials. At first I was intimidated, but as time went on we all bonded SO incredibly well. We were super supportive of each other. Indeed, I do not envy the judges on the decision they had to make. It must have been close. But Mariah? She's going to be amazing. We're all here to support her.
I mean, look at that smile! She's just about the nicest girl on the planet.