Monday, January 30, 2012

Accessibility Within

One of my favorite things to do is shopping. It doesn't matter whether it's target, the mall, the grocery store, bookstore etc. I don't even have to be there to buy anything, just getting out of the house and being in a different environment is enough. It's actually relaxing to me to look at different things in a store. There are certain places I could spend hours in just looking around.

I do get frustrated sometimes while shopping, not because of people but because of the accessibility in and around some stores. In most cases while at the mall, I end up having people move clothing racks so I can get through the store. At a lot of the strip malls the doors to get in are barely big enough or they swing a weird way where it's difficult to get in. Some have double doors where when I get through the first one I'm blocking the second one from opening. If that happens I end up halfway through the first door in order to have somebody open the second one. Most of the smaller and older stores don't have a handicap button, which makes it even harder.

There are also other issues with accessibility getting to locations. For example, sidewalk ramps aren't always in the place you'd think they would be. Sometimes I have to travel away from the store to get on the sidewalk and then backtrack to it. Sidewalks themselves can be a problem if they are uneven or have big cracks or holes. It definitely makes for a bumpy ride just getting there. The other thing that's an issue is streets or parking lots that don't have sidewalks where I have to go in the way of cars.

The closest mall to my house is Ridgedale Mall, which is about 3/4 of a mile away. When it's nice outside I like to roll there. There's only one way to get to it from my house, and it's not accessible at all. I'm going to try to explain the situation as best I can so you can create a picture in your mind.

After I get through my neighborhood streets I turn right onto Plymouth Road and go about a half a mile on the sidewalk (which is rather bumpy). Ridgedale Drive is the cross street that I turn right onto. I can't go straight across at the corner stoplight of Plymouth Road and Ridgedale Drive because there is no sidewalk on the other side and no down ramp, so I have to go right. I keep going down the sidewalk until I get to the opening to the Ridgedale library (on right, directly across from the mall). That's the only spot that has a down ramp for me to get off the sidewalk. Once I do that, I cross the street (no crosswalk there) and get to the side where the mall is. Since there is no sidewalk on the left side of the street, I have to go left up the street with traffic backtracking towards the stoplight in order to get to an entrance that leads to the parking lot of the mall. When I'm there, I go directly across the middle of the parking lot to the Ridgedale Mall entrance.

Now, if you're able to picture that you are amazing but that's the best I can describe it. I've lived in this house since March of 05 and ever since have wanted to file a complaint but never knew how. I came across this organization called MN-CCD which stands for Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.

According to their website:

"MN-CCD members are organizations that serve or advocate on behalf of people with disabilities. Governmental agencies may be members of MN-CCD only if their statutory mission includes advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities.

For some individuals there must always be a role for government to help support them in their home and community. The MN-CCD supports public policies that provide the most cost-effective delivery of services and help individuals with disabilities maintain their health and gain as much independence as possible in their daily living."

I learned about the organization through someone else and decided to e-mail them to see how I could get involved. The vice president, Christopher Hall, called me and during the conversation the whole topic of accessibility getting to Ridgedale Mall came up. One of the things they do is help people file complaints. Chris and his son came and met me at my house; we went out to that area so they could videotape me going across the street. Then they're going to figure out who owns the street and file a complaint for me.

I think what they do is great! I'm so excited to see this thing through and hopefully make a difference. It would be great to not have to worry about getting hit by a car every time I cross. Some people have just asked me why I even bother going there in my wheelchair if it's such a hassle and danger. They've told me that it would just be easier if I got driven to the mall. My response is always the same. I'm allowed to experience and have as much independence as possible and being able to travel to the mall by myself is included.

Accessibility has a very broad description and I believe it's important to look at all aspects and try to change things as much as possible to make it easier for people with disabilities.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2012 Pageant

Do you want to donate or be a contestant in the Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2012 pageant? Below is some information you'll need. I will post more details as they come up. Thanks!

Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2012 gala dinner

Date: Monday evening, Apr 2, 2012

Location: Marriott hotel, Minneapolis airport


1. We are looking for corporate sponsors: Platinum ($5000), Gold ($2500), Silver ($1750), Bronze ($1000) with various benefits at each level, all including a table for 8 at the gala event.

2. We are looking for businesses and people to donate their products or services for our raffle and silent auction items.

3. We are also looking for personal donations to help the winner get to the national competition. We're a non-profit organization and we are waiting for the IRS to grant us 501 c3 status. People can still write off donations to Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota.

To send a donation, become a contestant or for more info please contact:

Lexy Crow
Corner Medical
9720 Humboldt Avenue South
Bloomington, MN 55431

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blog Hiatus

I've been on a blog break for the past couple weeks.

On December 21 I went to the capital to have a meeting with the attorney general, Lori Swanson. It was a great chance to advocate for people with disabilities and share my story. I also talked to her about a couple of bills that need to be looked over. My sister Kristen drove me and we met my boyfriend Blake there. After the meeting, we got a private tour of the capital that the attorney general had set up. We had a great time and I especially enjoyed chatting with the attorney general.

I've been helping plan the Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2012 pageant with the board. I'm actually going to be on the board when my title ends. We're still figuring out the little details, but I can say for sure that it will be Monday, April 2. I was crowned April 5 last year and the time has gone by so fast. I've really enjoyed this opportunity and was able to do many great things throughout my reign. Perhaps I should save the rest of this speech until it's officially over. I will definitely post more about it as I know. We are looking for contestants so if you're interested you can check out my Facebook page for more info.

School started last week. I think I'm actually going to like my Logic class. Logic is the study of the principles of reasoning; you take arguments and make them simpler by using letters and symbols. It's considered a philosophy class not math. I've always disliked math and I consider it my worst subject. I'm just not interested in dealing with all the numbers. At the time of my accident I was in an algebra class. When I was in the hospital there was a teacher there that helped me finish my classes I was in. As I remember, I was actually teaching her how to use the graphing calculator. I haven't taken math since.

I'm also taking Intro Short Stories. I looked through the book and it seemed like a lot of the stories are going to be really good. I haven't always liked to read. As a teenager I was more interested in going out with friends than reading a good book. I do like reading now but lately it's just been for classes, not for fun. I've got so many book recommendations from people that I don't know where to start. Plus if I did start reading a novel, I would feel guilty doing it knowing that I had class readings.

My shoulder is feeling a lot better since the last time I talked about it. After my MRI, the orthopedist recommended I see a physical therapist to get ultrasound done. I've gone a total of three times now. At the second appointment after the PT was done with the ultrasound, she massaged the area. Then, she taped my arm with special "joint tape" called Lueco tape. She found that my shoulder is actually dropping out of the socket and that taping it would help pull it back in. After a few days of it being on I had no pain at all (since last Thursday). It felt amazing to have my range of motion back and be able to do things without experiencing excruciating pain.

Well, I know this is a big update but I had a lot of things to talk about. I've just been so busy lately I haven't been able to write anything down. This alone took me about four days to write. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them below under "comments". I'll definitely be writing a lot more after things settle down with school.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Emotional Freedom

These quotes are from a calendar I got for 2012. They are excerpts from the book "Emotional Freedom" by Judith Orloff. These were my three favorite out of the 12 because I can relate to them best.

"View your emotions in a non-ordinary way: as vehicles for transformation rather than simply as feelings that make you happy or miserable. Expect them to test your heart: that's the point. What you go through-what we all go through-has a greater purpose. Always, the imperative of the emotional freedom is for the love in us to evolve."

"We're ashamed of feeling afraid, inadequate, lonely, as if we've failed or done something wrong. None of these conclusions are true. It's a misguided expectation that were supposed to be serene all the time. Feeling emotions-all of them-is a courageous, spiritually transformative act. Dare to keep expanding your heart even if you've been wounded by pain or disappointed. The effort is never wasted."

"Forgiveness is a spiritual act of compassionately releasing resentments, anger or the desire to punish. It's a state of grace, nothing you can force or pretend. Forgiveness comes from your highest self, an expansion of vision. Ultimately it does more for you than for anyone else because it liberates you from negativity and lets you move forward."

I especially like the last quote. Forgiveness Is a wonderful thing because it can free you from a life of pain and suffering. I've written before about how I forgive because I think to myself what kind of life I'd be living if I was mad or angry all the time.

I hope in some way or another you can relate to these quotes as I did.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Here's to the New Year

As I look back on 2011, I think about all of my accomplishments and the great opportunities that came about.

In April I was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2011. Throughout my reign so far I've given multiple speeches, attended some amazing events, and made an impact during our state shut down. I also met with the attorney general, Lori Swanson, and got a private tour of the capital. I'm grateful for the chance to help and inspire others and for this experience. With three more months to go in 2012, I hope to continue being a role model and making an impact on others.

In August I was able to take my first plane ride since my accident. It took a lot of planning, fundraising, and hard work but I did it and I'm so glad. I flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan to take place in the Ms. wheelchair America 2012 pageant where I received fourth runner-up. Another big accomplishment in my book!

I believe throughout 2011 I changed in ways I never thought I would. I became even more confident in myself. I switched up my wardrobe from casual tees, hoodies and sweats to jeans and business attire. My routine is different now; I stay up in my wheelchair 3 to 4 hours longer than I did before. I also found love in my life and have never been more happy than I am now! I continue to smile each day and look ahead to what the days and years coming will bring.

So here's to the new year-2012. May it bring more joy and fulfillment to my life. I hope to accomplish many more things and continue growing.