Thursday, June 30, 2022

Happy Summer

 Happy summer to all of you! I hope you are enjoying your summer so far.

In the summer I work at a camp as a general worker and in an ice Cream & candy store.   It is lots of fun and a little less busy than the rest of the year.

This month I interviewed my friend Kari Winters. She is an amazing self- advocate and she has had lots of interesting adventures in her life.  I was in special Olympics gymnastics with her for many years.

Kari helps her sister make jewelry for her business.  She sings with a glee club and is a member of Aktion Club. Aktion club is part of the Kiwanis but run by self-advocates.  It is a service organization so the goal is to help others. They have lots of great activities locally and around the world. I am also a member of our Aktion club and so I get to see Kari a lot at the meetings. She also coaches kids in gymnastics at Flying High and she works at the Humane Society with cats.  She has 4 cats and loves them very much .

Kari went to Elmhurst college for 4 years in the ELSA Program. It is now Elmhurst University.  Her group had the same learning opportunities every other traditional student had but things were adapted. She loved going to college.

I asked Kari what helped her be successful in college and she said that she knew that she wanted to go to college and had confidence in herself. She had support from others especially her parents.  She said “I could stand up for myself and I knew my limits”.  Kari believes that you can only fail at something if you don’t try it.  I love that philosophy.

In college she was thrilled when her professor encouraged her to go to Springfield as a guest speaker.  She talked to legislators about post-secondary education. It was very exciting and an honor.

In 2020 Kari won first place in the state for the Miss Amazing Pageant for girls and women with disabilities.  For her talent she sang and signed “SPEECHLESS” by Naomi Scott from Aladdin.  Then as MS. Queen, she went to the national pageant in Nashville. She performed her talent, had an interview with judges, and she was in a formal gown.  SO exciting!!!! She might do it again but she is not sure.

Kari has advice for other self-advocates.  First, she thinks it is important for people to find their passion because it is good to do what you love. She believes successful people try new things and take risks. She knows that It is important to have courage and confidence in yourself.  So don’t be afraid, just go out and try it and find people to encourage you in your life and support you when you need it.

What an amazing person!! I am so glad to have her as my friend.

I hope she encourages you just like she encourages me!

Happy July !!!

Bridget Brown

Special Sparkle

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