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  • 27 Mar 2013 9:43 AM | Lora Bigcraft (Administrator)

    One positive aspect of the internet is that we have instant access to vast quantities of useful statistics and information.  For lots of us however, there are just too many statistics and not enough discussions of why numbers trend a certain way.  It should trouble Americans deeply that according to government labor data, of the 29 million working-age Americans, who are over 16 years old, with a disability, only about 5.2 million are employed.  Even those of us that are mathematically challenged can determine that is only about eighteen percent.

    What is the deal with the other eighty-two percent?  We all know there are people that cannot work at all.  Some disabilities are so relentless that they take every ounce of physical, emotional and spiritual strength to deal with.  Maybe the right thing to say is we should not judge our fellow human beings, but that is easier said than done when a person with a bad back claims a disability; is not working, and rides a Harley-Davidson up and down the road.  Even if some disabilities are fraudulent, every person’s battle with disability is different.  The other problem with judging is that there are many more invisible disabilities than those that can be seen with the naked eye.  If someone says they are disabled, who are we to judge?

    There are safety nets built in to the Social Security system, like the ticket to work, trial work period, and protection from medical reviews and expedited reinstatement for those who try to work and are unsuccessful.  None of the programs are ideal, but they can be navigated.  Even people that have not been approved for benefits fear how working will affect their pending case.  Surprise, the reality is that attempting to work part-time can actually help your case. 

    Why are not more people looking for work?  One reason may be getting a job is hard.  The unemployment rate for people with disabilities actively looking is about 13.7 percent compared to about 7.9 percent for the general population.  Is it fear of losing what benefits we have?  Has the system designed to help us actually painted us into a corner?  There is so much talent wasted.  How can we reach out to people to help build them a better life?  Does the system promote fear and discourage people?  How much richer would society be if we could reach even a small part of the eighty two percent?  Do you have any ideas?

  • 08 Aug 2012 4:36 PM | Lora Bigcraft (Administrator)

    Before Success: Someone Had To Believe

    By: Parrish L. Stahl

    As a baseball follower it is easy to marvel at the talent the Detroit Tigers put on the field.  Justin Verlander could possibly be the best pitcher in the game. Miguel Cabrera and Price Fielder are two of the premiere hitters in the history of the Tiger organization.  They are media super stars.  Professional athletes and successful people in general have something in common; someone somewhere along the line believed in them and let them pursue a dream.

    The odds of playing in the major leagues are astronomical.  There are no bad players in the majors; just a select few are elite though and every one of them have had to make dedication and family sacrifice a way of life.  I had a conversation with the mother of Tigers pitcher Phil Coke, and she said half-jokingly, “it is just little league all over again, the foods better though.”  We so often hear about the great salaries and forget the people behind the scenes that spend years supporting other people’s dreams. 

    No one can succeed in any walk of life unless other people are there to support them.  Someone drove every major leaguer to practice for years before they made it.  Before there was the manicured fields, air conditioned club houses, limousines, airplanes and catered food; there were dusty sand lots, burning hot summer days, broken down buses, shortages of equipment and sack lunches.  Even the greatest Tiger of all, Al Kaline, who came directly from high school to the Detroit Tigers in 1953 and has been with the organization as a player, broadcaster and executive ever since, needed people to believe in him at every step along the way.  Another famous man with very small hands wandered into a gym in Louisville, KY, mad because someone stole his bike.  He planned to do something criminal, but was headed off by someone who cared and channeled his passion.  That little boy grew up to be the 3-time Heavy Weight Champion, his name, Muhammad Ali.

    Someone saw potential in Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Elvis Presley and you if you are reading this.  Someone thought it was essential that you learned to read. If you see talent are you supporting it and fostering its development?  How much talent and ability is overlooked because no one was there to help?  We all have the potential to change the world.  Your life is not the only destiny you control.  What can you do to work on a better future?  History is full of little things that became huge victories.

    Even if you never became a professional, if you are successful there was a coach, parent, friend, relative, teacher, bus driver, or a perfect stranger that impacted your life in a positive way.  Roll models and inspirations are not limited to a select few.  Do not sell yourself short; we all have something to give. Let’s talk about your ideas! Who believed in you and what can you do to return the favor?

  • 07 Aug 2012 3:23 PM | Lora Bigcraft (Administrator)

    Folding Batteries Could Change the World

    By: Parrish L. Stahl

    The jump between this and scooters used by the disAbled community is a really narrow divide. I find it exciting. The big drawbacks to batteries are weight, cost and duration. We owe much of this technology advancement to the space program.

    We have largely solved duration problems and weights are coming down, but will people with disabilities be able to afford the technology that would help them maintain and gain independence? Must we be economically viable to make real systems change an ongoing endeavor? There is always a series of steps that helps things happen for all people.  Everyone needs reliable transportation, safe adequate housing and healthcare, but the system demands that people with disabilities live in poverty to get a safety net.

    We do not do a very good job at telling policy makers why we need access to technology that not only makes life a little easier, but plays a huge roll in making us an asset to the American melting pot instead of a drain. Something as simple as a truly light weight mobility device with a folding battery could make it possible for individuals to transport the device easily with a passenger car.  That would mean many of us wouldn’t need expensive vans.

    Is it not time we look in the mirror and hold ourselves accountable for why change does not happen sooner?  There are certain aspects of our life we cannot control, but there are things we can do.  Reach out and use your voice and together we will all be better off.  I believe one of our largest problems is our collective silence.  Am I wrong, if not, how can our base be energized? 

    The future is coming.  If you would like to read about the folding battery, click on the link below.


  • 17 Jul 2012 5:02 PM | Lora Bigcraft (Administrator)

    Do People with Disabilities Have a Responsibility?

    Parrish L. Stahl

    Trying to work toward an active lifestyle for people with disabilities is a long road.  Some of us have been working for decades to not only change physical access but also long standing systems and the mindsets of well meaning people who all too often have an almost exclusive caretaker attitude.  As much as we need help and support: we are only moving forward if that assistance comes in the right form. 

    We as people are sometimes guilty of letting others do too much for us.  Living with a significant disability is hard work and it is easy to say to ourselves “Look at how difficult my life is; I deserve to not have to deal with this”.  In the short term we get a break, but in the long term we do not get the benefit of life experience if someone takes care of everything for us.  For instance, how does one learn how to set up a household budget if someone else does that?  How do we learn how uncomfortable it is to be late on a bill and what the consequences are, if that never happens to you? People are shaped for better or worse by the things that happen to them.  People learn to make an omelet they enjoy by burning a few eggs and trying different combinations of ingredients until they get it right.

    So much has changed for the better since the Americans with Disabilities Act; although much of the change has been extremely slow in coming.  The idea behind the ADA was a grand desire by society to give all people a level playing field.  Now, in theory, we have access and more open minds.  Does anyone else ever wonder what we are going to do with it?  It is frustrating that for the most part we have access; no we do not live in a perfect world, but access to goods, services, and systems is available and many times is not utilized to its fullest.

    As advocates we hear things like we need more transportation, housing, recreational and entertainment opportunities.  The sad fact is many times hard working individuals are working at increasing access and even organizing recreational events and struggle to get people to be involved.  The question is how can we utilize all of the resources that we have?  Do you as a person with a disability put yourself in a position to let yourself be heard?  Do you make phone calls, write letters, and form relationships with decision makers? 

    It is extremely likely that when you form relationships you will also form allies.  Not just someone to be a caretaker but go to battle with you.  There is a lot of pressure associated with being one of the first to try something new but the rewards are worth it.  A decade ago a woman in a press box was a rarity, now it is more common place.  Someone had to blaze a trail.  A journalist using a wheelchair is not common yet, but hopefully there are young people with disabilities coming behind me who will try.  Every time I cover an event I feel a responsibility to build relationships with my fellow journalists.  What inevitably happens is that disability no longer defines who I am. 

    Are you building relationships?  Are you setting an example for people who are following you?  Do you feel a responsibility to other people with disabilities?

  • 24 May 2012 4:15 PM | Perry Stahl (Administrator)
    17 May 2012 1:42 PM | Jim Cyphers
    Hello everyone, first I'd like to introduce myself. I am a person with a disability. I am an employee of disAbility Connections (D.C.) and work as one of the Independent Living Specialists at D.C. Outside of my regular duties as paid staff here (which also includes being somewhat of a Social Security Disability expert) I've been involved in transportation issues for years advocating for accessable/affordable transportation for everyone. For the past three years I have held a position on the board of the Jackson Ttransportation Authority (JTA) and the LocaL Transportation Advisory Counsil (LTAC). I've been a user of the public transportation system in Jackson for over 30 years and am quit familiar with the needs of people with disabilities for transportation.

    I'd like to invite people to participate in a dialogue concerning transportation and all the issues surrounding it. I'll be posting updates from time to time and responding to comments or questions. My hope is that the information shared will encourage us all and create a positive atmosphere and a feeling of moving forward.
  • 23 May 2012 9:58 AM | Lora Bigcraft (Administrator)

    What are your Summer Plans?

    It is almost summer, the damp days of our Michigan Spring are giving way to beautiful blue sky days.  The flowers are in bloom all around exhibiting an  almost endless display of radiant colors. 

    Fair and festival season is upon us.  Is anyone planning to attend Michigan Center’s MI own Carp Carnival in June?  Some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending this time of year on and around Michigan Center Lake.  Camping, fishing, spearing, boat rides, just being outside and bon fires are forever part of my soul. 

    I get angry sometimes that my physical condition interferes with so many activities that I love.  I am always looking for ways to get outside and experience the great outdoors.  It’s funny sometimes how something as simple as the smell of fresh cut grass can make my soul feel lighter. 

    What are your summer plans?  Are local places and events your highlights or will you venture out of town.  Will you be visiting Comerica Park to cheer on our Detroit Tigers?  Will you attend a concert or two?  Visit the drive- in movies in Coldwater.  Are you going fishing, camping , hiking or is a trip to the casino more your speed?  Lets talk about our summer plans or summer wish list.  Do you have a great sugestion?  We can learn a lot from each other.


  • 05 Apr 2012 12:07 PM | Lora Bigcraft (Administrator)

    Welcome to Parish Stahl’s Dynamic Ability Blog.  For several years’ staff and friends of disability Connections have been having discussions about how to use technology to reach out to and engage our community.  More of our people are using and embracing the internet; so it is the perfect time to extend a hand of friendship to our fellow human beings using this technology.

    As a person with a disability, it is my hope that we can have a lively, informative and fun exchange of stories, ideas, issues and concerns we have in common.  One aspect that I hope will make this place unique is the fact that, yes, some of us are people with disabilities, but we are so much more.  We are sportsmen, collectors, fans, hobbyists, parents, partners, athletes and many other things.  Let’s talk about what we are into from the perspective of people with disabilities. 

    People with disabilities are some of the strongest people on the face of the earth.  Our natural ability as problem solvers, out of necessity, can be a source of great strength to others.  Please share this link with your friends and let’s talk….. the more the better.

    I plan to post a new article on the first of each month to get the conversation started, but where this blog goes and how it grows and evolves is up to you.  I will drive, but help me navigate, so we can get where we need to go.  I look forward to connecting with lots of new friends.

  • 18 Aug 2011 3:52 PM | Anonymous

    Angelica is not only an artist with CreateAbility, but a part of the CreateAbility Advisory Board.

    Angelica became interested in Art when she visited a gallery in Jackson in her early twenties.  She was drawn to a painting of flowers.  The price of the piece was more than she could afford and so she decided to paint her own.

    Angelica attended Glossel School of the Arts in Houston where she was living at the time.  After studying there she studied under other artists who were also painters.  She works with both oils and acrylics as her mediums, but her favorite medium is oils.  She likes these oils as they take longer to dry and this allows more time to work with your subject matter.

    Her favorite subject matter is flowers because they reflect life and fragility and “life is fragile”.  She also likes flowers because they offer “soft edges” versus hard lines in work.  

    Her favorite style of painting is loose brush strokes, similar to the style of Van Gogh.  She also likes this style as it allows the artist to put “energy” into the work. 

    Her favorite artist is an American artist named  Sargent who was influenced by Monet.  She likes his work as he paints in a realistic sense and has a good sense of color and he also draws well.  Angelica feels that to be a good painter that good drawing skills are essential as well.  Her other favorite artist is the French artists Pierre, also a painter.   She like his work because he works with a canvas taped to the wall, rather than a stretched canvas that is the common method.  He stretches his canvas after he completes the work and uses his fingers and rags as his primary tools to paint with. 

    Angelica starts her own works by finding something in a picture or still life that draws her interest…usually flowers and more recently faces.    She  starts with a loose sketch, then fills in a more complete drawing then paints.   She also considers the different angles of her subject by viewing it from different angles.

    She likes to get out of her comfort zone by painting people or portraits.  She is also drawn to hands as they offer a variety of subject matter and are a close up, more intimate subject matter, versus landscapes, which are distant.             


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