Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Lisa is living her best life





 Lisa is living her best life. .



I hope everyone is enjoying spring! This is a wonderful time of year.

I just finished my first semester in college at UIC. Now I am planning for next school year.  I have an internship at the UIC nursing simulation lab that starts in the fall.  I will be a patient actor in the lab and I am very excited about this opportunity.


I just went out to lunch with a friend of mine named Lisa.  She is a very courageous woman and I thought it would be great to interview her and share her story with you.

She lives a fabulous life and uses some of the person-centered planning tools I talked about to design her life.



Lisa was born with Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. She never let the fact that she had CP limit her ability to dream of an inclusive and full life.
Lisa describes herself in her book like this “ I have never walked a step in my entire life. I can’t move my legs, my hands have limited usage and my speech is impacted as well.”  


As a child, she was an ambassador for Easter Seals.  She even knows the Precious Moment’speople really well because they were very involved in Easter Seals.  They designed a Precious Moment’s figurine who used a wheelchair and that made her very proud.

She went on a wilderness canoe trip with her dad and went to many fabulous camps. 


Lisa was included in school until the district took her out of her school in 6th grade and sent her to a functional life skills class at  another school far away & completely segregated from her peers and neighbors. She became sick and hated school.  She was completely isolated and her class was in a separate wing closed off from the rest of the students.  Educators forgot to teach her academics and they even forgot to teach her how to read. They prepared her for a life at  a sheltered workshop.


She was in a segregated setting through high school. She and her mom advocated fiercely for many years to get her into general education. . Finally, she was mainstreamed into a  woodworking class.   She has limited use of her hands so woodworking was a cruel joke of some kind. Lisa finally got into some inclusive classes in transition.


During all the segregated years, Lisa never let go of her dream to be included!! She said her dream never faded.


Then Lisa hired someone to teach her how to read. In a very short time, her reading ability sky rocketed.  She went up about 5 levels in reading in one year.  People just forgot to teacher her to read in school because she said they were babysitting her.


Her courage and commitment to make her dreams come true took off.

She went to College of DuPage and then on to Whitewater University. Whitewater has excellent supports for people with disabilities. She was there for 5 years and got a degree in Womans studies and Family Health. She made great friends who did not see her disability. She went to concerts and out for pizza and had study aids and note-takers. Her RA was right near her room so she could get help when needed.  Her PAs, aids, & caregivers were some of her peers and the program was through Lutheran Social Services. 
She had a fabulous time at WW.

However, in the beginning, it was hard to transition. She was afraid no one would come and get her.  On the first night, she was so nervous and she ended up in the hospital.  Her mom and Lisa decided that the worst is over and they survived so why not stay and see how it goes.

Talk about COURAGE!
I went to visit her at Whitewater and I could she how she fell in love with the place!


Now Lisa is on Two statewide boards, she is a Partners in Policymaking graduate, a LEND graduate and an author. She wrote two books: Take a Ride with Me and They Said We Couldn’t.  She is finishing up  a cookbook called HOT AND TASTY cooking with a partner.  She has recipes and will have videos showing how a person with CP can cook with a friend or companion.  I think this is just amazing!


So I asked her how she did it all and what advice can she give us on our journey.

Below are some of her thoughts.


·         When she was 12 she had a dream that God told her to help other people with DD by using her voice to make a difference.  She followed that as her North star her whole life even in the darkest times.

·         She had perseverance and kept fighting for her life.

·         She had a fabulous support system and found people who understood her vision and did not stop her from Dreaming.

·         Communication is first and foremost for a successful life.

·         Don’t let people put boundaries in front of you and tell you what you can and can’t do.

·         She thanks GOD every morning for her life and lives with gratitude

·         In Lisa’s book, TAKE A RIDE WITH ME, she describes how she turns her dreams into reality by visualization and manifestation. She creates a strong emotion, and attaches it to a clear and focused vision or dream.



Lisa is such an amazing person. She has a lot of courage and determination. She uses so many of the tools I have shared with you so she can live her incredible life.

There is so much more to learn from Lisa.  You can find out more about her by at LISA.CECAL.COM.


As I continue my Blog I would like to interview many people who have disabilities so I can share their stories with you. I think we all can find hope from each other. If you would like me to tell your story,  or if you know anyone who you think would be a great person for me to interview,  let me know. Send me a note on my website. www.butterfliesforchange.org   


Looking forward to checking in with you next month!

Bridget Brown 

Nancy Brown 

Inclusion Consultant 

Norman B Barr Camp 



"May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder". J. O'Donohue
"Math may not teach me how to add love or subtract hate , but it gives me HOPE that every problem has a solution "


Monday, May 2, 2022



Hello again from Bridget

Happy April!!

I hope that your spring is giving you a positive outlook. We are already into our spring season and that makes me very happy. I can’t believe how fast spring moves along and summer is not far ahead of us.


I spent a lot of time with family this past week to celebrate my tradition of Easter.  My nieces and nephews were very excited about looking for eggs and eating candy.  I love enjoying the moment with family members and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces.


We have been talking about Person Centered life Designs for the last few months. It is a powerful and positive planning process.  I will take a moment to review the information. 

First, we start off thinking about our celebrations and what we are proud of at this moment. We then identify our BIG dreams and hopes in our life. We brainstorm and think about all our gifts & strengths – Like our super powers-  and the things we love to do that make us smile.

The next part is writing down and sharing the things we are afraid of and the things that make us worry. We call them the nightmares.


When we do a FUTURE SEARCH we have to pretend that it is a year from now and we are telling someone that it was the best year ever in our life.  Everything we describe is a way to visualize a great future but it has to be POSITIVE AND POSSIBLE.  Clear attainable goals is the most import thing to remember when we are doing the future search.

Today we are ending with the final step in our Person-Centered Life Design. It is the Action plan.  Take each item in the Future Search and decide how we are going to make that happen.  Decide as a group what the action is and who is going to do it and when will that happen. Think of this step as a way to make a “TO DO” list but you have to be very specific about what needs to be done to make things happen.  Who do you need to help you? It is important to include people like your family, a personal assistant, friends, job coaches and others who can help you.  You can get started by putting down the people in your life that you want involved your process.


Think of the people in your life that can help you out.  Think of this Action plan like a map that helps you get where you want to go.


 For example:

My future search is to get a paid internship starting in September.



·         Get in touch with a person who runs the place where I want an internship at

·         Set up a JOB TASTING with her where we just talk about what they do and discuss if it might be something that I would be good at doing.

·         SET up a time to do a job shadowing this coming Friday. I will go there for about 4 hours to see what it is all about. 

·         Decide the next step.

·         WHO? I had to involve my parents, the head of the department, my support person and a few other people in my action plan to get this done.

·         WHEN? Friday

So that is the last step in the Person-Centered Life Design!  It really comes together at the end if you keep it positive and possible!  I hope this makes sense when you see how it all works together to help you make dreams come true.

Next month I am going to start interviewing some people who are doing some fun and amazing things in their life.  I think we can all learn from them!

Sending good thoughts your way! Bridget Brown

Pursuing Post-Secondary Education

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