Every year, the first week of October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. As somebody who has a disability, I am very blessed and honored to speak on this to commemorate the many contributions and achievements of disabled individuals in the workplace.
Speaking to Kids
Every year, I get invited to my local elementary school that I once attended. The school principal invites me to speak to the kids and staff about disability awareness. This is the one event I truly get excited about every single year. It just means more to me when you can educate the individuals in your community. I feel that I am truly paying it forward for the next generation, so that they’re aware that everybody is considered equal, and everybody should be given a chance to succeed if they want to put the effort into their career.
Demonstrating My Power Wheelchair to Them
My elementary school includes students from first grade to six grade, so the kids are relatively young. I always change up my speech to accommodate the age group. Normally when I do a speech, I go on for 45 minutes and I have a preplanned idea of what I’m going to say with no filter. With little kids you cannot do that because there’s always going to be a curveball, such as somebody talking out loud, that’s going to disrupt you. So, I make it fun for the kids and as interactive as possible. I invite the kids to come up and look at my power wheelchair and touch it. This can break down the awkward barrier that some kids when they’re around someone who has a disability. Most kids like the Bluetooth® technology and the speedometer on my motorized wheelchair. They like the different modes on the Q-Logic 3 joystick.
This year I was asked so many different questions, such as why I can’t walk or how I go to the bathroom. It was really amazing that the kids were so open and not afraid to ask questions, even though some of them were personal.
After my speech, a lot of the kids wanted to come up and talk with me. One of the teachers invited me into his classroom because they were doing a project where the kids had to cut out wheelchairs that they had drawn. I was very thankful to go into the classroom and go more depth as to the differences between a manual wheelchair and a motorized wheelchair like my Edge® 3 Power Wheelchair with iLevel®.
I think the biggest gift you can give is to help educate the next generation. I truly enjoy when I can educate kids about disabilities and sometimes what you say gives the adults something to think about as well.
About Josh McDermott: Josh is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. He is a public speaker and has served as a goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Josh lives in New York and loves to travel. Click hereto learn more about Josh.
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