Positivity, coast to coast

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A few weeks ago, I had an amazing opportunity to experience this wonderful country, coast to coast. From home in Indiana to three incredible days in New York City, I was able to witness the wonderful work being accomplished there by people committed to building community.  I met artists, organizers, musicians, people working on resumes and careers, librarians in the park, and knitters! It was incredible. The work being done one person at a time was beautiful to see.

New York City, what an amazing place! There is so much good going on every day in the midst of millions of people.  

John with the Little Free Library in NYC.

One example is a project started by Urban Innovation, a collaborative effort of NYC’s AHRC and Job Path. They have distributed over 30,000 children’s books in Harlem through Little Free Library!  Started by a small group of people with disabilities, they have now enlisted even more volunteers to constantly stock the libraries and support reading for young people.  It was fantastic to hear their excitement to contribute to the community.

After a few days at home, I headed the other direction to participate in the California Disability Services Association annual meeting in Los Angeles.  Here, I met with many providers with very similar dreams and goals for creating bright futures for people they support. Each of them are trying to figure out how to thrive in challenging times

I spoke with agencies about how their staff helped evacuate people they support in the face of advancing wildfires when their own families were evacuating!  How these committed staff step up to take care of others is incredible while everything they own is at risk. We have real heroes working every day!

In all my years of traveling, I have never been to the east coast, Midwest, and west coast in such a compressed time.  It amazes me how much we are alike.

Sometimes, we may be surrounded by negativity, where efforts may try to separate us. However, we are part of an amazingly diverse and rich cultural fabric that brings us all to a better place –  including those with IDD and the people they support

While at Cal DSA,I heard two remarkable presenters.  Rachel Stone, author of Riding The Bus With My Sister, shared the poignant story of how the riders of her sister’s bus became such a key part of her community.  If you have not read it I recommend you do so.

Secondly, Dr. Sarah Presser led a remarkable session on the importance of positivity. Hint: you live longer!  I want to invite her to share advice on Quillo.

In my travels, what I notice is that we are accomplishing so much every day despite all of the negativity around us.  We have so much good to build upon. When we focus on the positive and the things we accomplish, it makes all the rest seem possible. We have so much opportunity ahead of us.  With the people across the country I met during these two weeks, I am sure we will only continue to see positive change as everybody contributes to building better relationships and better lives.   

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