Board member and program speaker Tiffany Beeler-Porter shares her experiences growing up with a disABILITY and the importance of acceptance of everyone.
I am very humbled and grateful to be a part of the Joseph Maley Foundation, serving as a Board member and as a speaker for the disABILITY Awareness Program. As a person who was born with a disABILITY, I understand the importance of disABILITY awareness in education as it pertains to compassion and acceptance.
I was born missing my right arm just below my elbow. Growing up I was often stared at, teased, and questioned about my ability to do things. In fact, I can do most everything the next person can do. My parents raised my siblings and I together and I was never treated differently. They knew some things could be difficult for me but our motto was, “we can find a way.” I learned to adjust very quickly to life doing things my way and never subscribing to the notion that “I can’t.” My family always believed in me and supported me.
As a part of the disABILITY Awareness Program, I talk to students about life adjusting with a disABILITY. I demonstrate some of the things I can do, like tying my shoe or passing out papers, just as they do daily. But mostly I talk about feelings and acceptance. All people have feelings and everyone wants to be accepted, whether they have a disABILITY or not. But it is most important to feel accepted when you already are looked at as “different.”
If people understand that a “disabled person” is just a person with a disABILITY and can learn to look beyond their disABILITY, JMF is accomplishing its goal. disABILITY doesn’t hinder who a person is, it doesn’t hinder their heart, their mind, or their desire to be accepted.
JMF disABILITY Awareness is a much-needed program in the community. It has served many audiences and its impact has been substantial. I’ve witnessed the impact and importance of educating others about myself and my disABILITY. I wish this program existed when I was in school.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as a Board member and a disABILITY Awareness speaker!
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Board Member, disABILITY Awareness Speaker