Post Title:  Disability InSIGHTS: Bring on the Lake Effect here in Erie, PA!

I feel as if I am rising to the surface of somewhere deep in Lake Erie itself as I look back at our event, Disability InSIGHTS, which began on the whitecaps of International Blindness Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

I am still processing the events of that day so I will share some early snaps and let others describe what it meant to them. I will add my thoughts here and there.

Amy Bovaird and Stephanae McCoy standing in from of the Sloppy Duck

Amy and speaker, Stephanae McCoy, shortly after her arrival to Erie from Pittsburgh and before heading out to a book signing. She writes, “We are standing in front of the restaurant (posing with our white canes) where she and her brother Michael took me for lunch. We are standing in front of a small pond where 4 ducks were playing. Sitting on a bench directly behind us is a life-size statue of the cartoon character Lisa from The Simpsons.”

Her thoughts on our main event? “Disability InSIGHTS was a phenomenal success. The lineup of speakers was impressive and I think everyone in attendance not only learned more about the disability community but we were also able to make some great connections.”

Amy Bovairds Brand Banner of beautiful watercolor woman with arms raised as if celebrating freedom

From Barb Weber, an attendee, Congratulations to visionary Amy Bovaird for organizing and hosting Disability Insights today for our community.”

Vision impaired herself, Amy put together an inspiring group of speakers to inspire all of us. The universal message was clear – with support, determination, knowledge and hard work, we can go beyond our perceived limits and do so much more! Let’s get started!”

Mark Blakeney and Emmanuel Lee (002)

Emmanuel impacted the entire room with his story of struggle. I think everyone held a collective sigh when he talked about the joy he felt when his toddler “signed” in his hand. It was a beautiful moment shared by everyone.

hope martinson chair yoga

Hope Martinson, who led a chair yoga session, sent a note this morning stating, “I wanted to tell you that seeing Emmanuel inspired me to teach sign [language] in my yoga classes this weekend! My theme was Yoga ABC so it worked out perfectly. The kids really seemed to enjoy it.”

Picture of Aimee Eddy Gross in front of podium speaking at Disability InSIGHTS seminar

Aimee Eddy Gross writes, “I enjoyed myself. All the speakers did a wonderful job.” She herself was uplifted and inspired. She notes, “I saw common themes with the disabilities:  bullying, the need for support, reaching beyond the disability, and success.”

She definitely wanted to be part of any future events of this type. A member of the audience asked if Aimee did other speaking engagements. Aimee quickly replied, “I would like to do more and help people.”

Connection, empathy, dialogue were common themes I, as the organizer, could see throughout Disability InSIGHTS as well as the ones Aimee mentioned.

Kerry and Steph_Bold Blind Beauty display

As I wrap up this blog post, I have to include one last photo: this is of Stephanae and Kerry standing in front of the Bold, Blind Beauty table. Kerry, a friend who is blind and knows several of the speakers, came all the way from Canada to not only attend but also to help out in any way she could.  She is standing to the right of a banner of Abigail Style, the logo that represents Bold Blind Beauty. Stephanae is on the other side of the banner.

These are initial thoughts and photographs of a seedling-to-fruition event. Finally, I cannot forget to thank Rebecca Reidmiller, my virtual assistant, who brought everything so nicely together on my website: photographs of the speakers, their bios, the registration, and who dispensed generously of her advice in how I could get word of our event out.  I’m so grateful.

My heart is happy. International Blindness Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month have given us a stage. But we, individuals of challenge and struggle,  have set ripples of connection here in Erie, Pennsylvania.

image of whirling water, wind and leafLake Erie is famous for its wind and waves. When combined, there is a weather phenomenon called “the lake effect.” Get ready, readers, for the lake effect to hit the disability community. I’m excited, in this case, to feel the sharp wind of change pick up the waves we are sending out in the community. I want to feel the spray. Let the wind carry the voices of our stories. Blow in inclusion. Blow in employment. Blow in colorful leaves of understanding and empathy. Let it whirl through the waves until the winds blow out self-confidence and dignity.

You have just read “Disability InSIGHTS: Bring on the Lake Effect here in Erie, PA!” by Amy L. Bovaird. © October 22, 2019. All rights reserved.

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5 Stars “…I’m not vision impaired. I don’t read non-fiction for enjoyment. I am not what some might consider the target market for this book, but I can tell you that I would recommend it to my own teenagers, my husband, my teenage students, and anyone else I know as a book of bravery, encouragement, motivation, testimony, and just as a pleasure read. Don’t pass it by: You will be blessed.”–An Amazon Reader

–An Amazon Reader

5 Stars   “Living in the Power instead of the fear!”

Mobility Matters elegantly shares Amy Bovaird’s emotions and experience which anyone going through vision loss can identify with. The transformation as she overcomes her fear and the enemies voices that her loss of vision will now define who she is as a person and dictate the rest of her life, will inspire hope to each reader. Amy’s journey stepping out in faith and how the Lord’s Word gave her the strength to keep going, is a must read.

This book is not only for those going through the hallway of vision loss, but for each family member or any one who loves someone losing their vision would also benefit by reading.

Mobility Matters Stepping out in Faith has left me thinking I will now call canes power sticks!!!

Michael Benson, Founder
Visual Experience Foundation

Michael Benson, Founder, Visual Experience Foundation

4 Stars  “…As a mobility specialist myself, I found this book of great interest to me for its subject matter. I was quite amazed that Amy could get around on her own with her genetic condition, particularly at night, since individuals with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) tend to lose their night vision and are using a cane at night much sooner than Amy was using any assistive device (even a bright light). Amy maintained her positive attitude, her faith and her sense of humour. If only we all could do that in times of crisis!” –Kathryn Svendsen, Mobility Specialist, Canada

–Kathryn Svendsen

5 Stars  “Couldn’t stop reading until I finished. Very inspirational. Will definitely be looking for more by this author!” –Sharon Hannah

–Sharon Hannah

5 stars “…This book really inspired me. Amy’s outlook on life is what I would like to model in my own. Yes, going blind SUCKS but she took it to another level. She made it into an adventure and I needed to be reminded of that again. Her positive outlook on this all has really encouraged me in my current situation now. Taking the step of faith to move on forward and embrace life for what it is. I highly recommend purchasing this book! Be inspired, take a journey behind the life of someone with Usher, smile, laugh, and enjoy! –Andi Nicole

–Andi Nicole

5 Stars “As a person who lives with chronic illness, I sometimes get bogged down with books on illness that feel really heavy. This one does not. Author Amy Bovaird, who is losing her sight, writes so well about her personal experiences, I feel like I’m walking alongside her as I read. I kept coming back to the story to see what happened–was she going to let fear stop her? Would she overcome?
The lessons Amy learns through her experiences apply to any of us who fear aging, illness, new symptoms, or really anyone who needs some inspiration, and that reminder that much can be accomplished if you step out and forward–even when you cannot see beyond that first step. I definitely enjoyed this book. –Kimberly Rae, Bestselling Author of the Stolen Series

–Kimberly Rae, Your Content Goes Here

Blog post review by Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight
One of the best books I have ever read about mobility and white cane use is called Mobility Matters: Stepping out in Faith by Amy Bovard. It is funny, poignant and packs a lot of tips and useful information. You can find it by following the link below to Amy’s web page and listen to a chapter before you buy, it is wonderful.

Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight

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