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I could not take in a fraction of the booths, events, workshops, etc. at the Abilities Expo that took place in Chicago this past weekend, but, in addition to discovering the AWESOMENESS of Quad Rugby / Wheel Chair Rugby, here are some more highlights for me of what I was able to experience and learn about:

  • Another major highlight for me was that I got to meet Barton and Megan Cutter, a married couple who are life coaches, writing coaches, mentors, motivational speakers, and more. To read about them, check out their website at Cutter’s Edge Consulting. They are both encouraging people, and it was a great joy for me to meet them. I appreciated that they took the time to talk with me and also that they encouraged me in my creative writing. They are the kind of people who leave one feeling uplifted after even a few words with them. Later on, I also got to listen to some of a talk given by them about “Creating Healthy Relationships: Tips for Dating and Intimacy”, and they had a lot of wise advice.
  • Additionally, I listened to a talk given by Stevie Hopkins about some of his life story and his sister Annie’s and also about them founding a company called 3E LOVE. I did not condone everything in the talk, but then, no one is perfect including me. (I do not condone everything in my own life story either!) Overall, I did so appreciate the remarkable person he is, some points throughout his talk, his courage in sharing his story, and especially the overall message of love: as humans, we want to be loved and respected and appreciated and valued and known for who we truly are; we do not want to be belittled, left out, misunderstood, discriminated against, rejected, overlooked, etc. I could relate to a lot of what he had to say.
  • I also listened to a talk given by Timothy J. Caruso, a physical therapist at Shriners Hospital for Children on “Adaptive Equipment for Kids, Adolescents & Teens”. I liked how he frequently referred to MacGyver (the famous, resourceful, creative, fictional TV series agent who uses everyday materials to solve complex problems). When it comes to adaptive technology and accessibility, there is not a one-size fits all solution – as every person is unique. Some customization may be required. And, at times, in some cases, it may be possible to create comparable homemade solutions to expensive products that can be effective and save money. It is important to be creative and resourceful and to try things out before buying them and to explore what is most beneficial for the particular user(s). For all of us, it is essential to determine what matters most to us personally as an individual and to find ways to pursue what we care about, such as passions, goals, hobbies, interests, dreams, lifestyles. In one example, he shared about a boy in a wheelchair who really cared about going fishing, and that it was possible in that situation to find funding to get him a beach wheelchair, so that he could go fishing. It is not always possible for us to achieve everything we would like to in life, but it is important to evaluate and courageously pursue what matters most to us and see what happens. Also, we often need to collaborate with others to find solutions in life because as individuals we do not know everything.
  • Additionally, I got to see an interesting product called CaptionCall that facilitates talking on the phone for those with hearing loss by creating captions of what is being said on a screen.

I would definitely recommend attending the AbilitiesExpo. It was a beneficial experience for me, a great place to meet some amazing people, to be encouraged in my own interests and passions and dreams, to be inspired by others, and to learn about some ways to improve accessibility.