Justin, young smiling man seated in wheelchair in front of adapted keyboard, in living room

A week of action


I have been keeping a little secret. I have finished the first draft of the book. Yes, I finished on Monday – early by three weeks. This is dual point of view (well, really multi POV) because I wanted to do this from different perspectives and for what the book is dealing with, I think it was necessary. Still have to do massive rewrites because the first draft is just me telling the story.

Advocacy news

I was honored to be recognized as the Arc of Minnesota’s Self-advocate of the Year on Saturday. My experiences that I’ve written about in this blog about trying to find an accessible, affordable apartment and living independently aren’t just mine. A lot of people with disabilities are struggling to find homes or apartments that are accessible and affordable and that can mean the difference of livening independently or not. Testifying at a State of MN House Hearing about the desperate need for requiring accessibility that actually works for people with disabilities was something that made me feel like I was making a difference.

My parents and I went to the Partners in Policymaking 35th Anniversary celebration on Saturday afternoon. I’m a Partners graduate. It was one of the first things I did after graduating from high school. It was nice to see some familiar faces and see the inVISIBILITY exhibit. The photo shows me next to a poster of my quote from my presentation at the MN State Capitol Reopening.

Justin, a smiling young man in wheelchair with communication device, in front of a poster that reads: "Think and plan ahead to make sure people are included in meaningful ways. Go beyond the simple Minnesota nice "Hi, How are you?" and realize that I and others with disabilities have a lot to say and need people to take the time to listen. Quote by Justin Smith, 2017
Me after finding a poster of one of my quotes at the Partners in Policymaking 35th Anniversary

Other voices recommendations

Speaking of advocacy and listening to voices of people with disabilities, here are other amazing advocates to check out. I think our 20-something year old perspectives on the lives we want to lead and just how broken some of the systems are that we’re trying to navigate may help in raising awareness in how far we still have to go to create a more inclusive world.

  • Watch My Disability Roadmap a 27-minute documentary short by Samuel and Dan Habib. Like me, Samuel has cerebral palsy and is sharing his story about living an independent life, too. Check it out! It’s good and I could totally relate! P.S. never talk to adults like they’re 5-years old and avoid patting faces and heads! You may view My Disability Roadmap documentary on the Like Right Now Films website
  • Another young blogger that I’ve recently connected with is Grace Dow. She also writes about her everyday experiences on living independently and has cerebral palsy. Can’t wait to meet her some day because we have a lot in common! Be sure to follow her Grace Dow Writes blog.

Do what you can to keep lifting up and sharing our voices! Don’t forget to hit that subscribe thingy and share widely and often! Thank you!

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