Currently, the unemployment rate is low because there are more jobs available. However, for someone with a disability, finding gainful employment continues to be a struggle. Too often, employers negatively view a potential employee with a disability. No matter how educated or experienced a person is, the focus is on the disability.
I’m here to tell you that you should never quit trying if you want something badly enough. I have my certification in education and a Bachelor of Science. After I graduated college, I quickly started trying to find a job as a teacher. Rejection after rejection came in. In the meantime, I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing, so I created my own jobs for a while. I tried web design for a bit, then writing for web magazines, and then my friend and I published a book.
I became Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania to advocate for people with disabilities and hopefully increase my chances for employment. Traveling to various schools, organizations, and conferences to give presentations built out my public speaker résumé. I enjoyed every second of it, but I still wanted my own job, preferably as a teacher.
Marriage came, and with it, a lucrative job offer from a website as a writer. I worked there for a few years, plus did other online work. Then, I became pregnant and wanted to be home with my baby. Even when both my children were young, I never gave up the dream of teaching; I started volunteering at my church with children, and still do.
Once both children entered school, the urge to work full-time hit me harder than ever. I applied for more jobs, had plenty of interviews, and wrote various places that could use my services. Through my emails and an interview, I secured a part-time position as a standardized patient.
I continued to pursue my full-time employment goal. In the past, I applied for various positions at my local YMCA. I volunteered for the YMCA when I planned and implemented an event called Accessible Halloween. Accessible Halloween gave all children with an array of disabilities an opportunity to trick or treat. Unfortunately, I kept getting turned down for paid employment at the YMCA.
I refused to give up despite the rejection letters. Finally, I received an email requesting that I come in for a working interview. I had to create and design an activity for about 12 students in an aftercare program. The supervisor suggested something for Halloween, so we did fall-themed bingo and made a Halloween craft. The students were very nice and enjoyed the activities. Everything went great and I stayed for the Halloween party while being supervised. I made sure to interact with everyone.
The supervisor said I did a good job and felt impressed that I took on a leadership role. She had some concerns over my cerebral palsy and my inability to physically perform some tasks, but with my leadership and organization skills plus my teaching background, she thought I’d be a good candidate for the position.
I’ll never forget how excited I felt when I opened the email saying the position is mine. I’m currently doing my training and pre-employment requirements. I start right after the Thanksgiving holiday. I can’t wait for my first day!
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disorder. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.