Hello, my name is Melissa and I’m a Grassroots Presenter in the Hudson Valley Region of SANYS.
There were a number of events in my life when I realized that if I could speak-up and advocate, I could make a better life for myself and others. From when a little girl in kindergarten wouldn’t hold my hand, to the time the Shriner’s Hospital brought in wheelchairs and walkers for the other kids to have a “disabled” experience and then the insult to my special-ed classmates and myself of being excluded from class activities in middle and high school, I knew I had to speak-up! I advocated for myself by getting involved in the student council and yearbook committee to help make changes.
The saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” applies to me and self-advocacy. These experiences made me want to prove that my disability would not define me, but instead would make me work harder to become who I am. I am a young adult who has overcome many obstacles through self-advocacy. That includes being able to drive, living two hours away from my parents in my own apartment and now being able to help others learn to advocate for themselves.