Last week, young adults from the Art Spark Texas OMOD group joined with members of Austin’s TILT Performance Group to present panels at the Charting the Course event in Austin, Texas. This event was for students with disabilities, as a part of pre-Employment Transition Services available through Texas Workforce Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
We met bright and early in East Austin at the Education Service Center Region 13. The theme for the three days was “Choice-making and self-advocacy in school/college/work.” Each day the program served students from either middle or high school grade levels. The panels answered a series of questions which allowed them to share their experiences in school, reflect on choices they made and talk about adults who supported them. The panellists also shared what they would like to tell their peers, their teachers and their younger selves.
Day One, the 8th grade event, focused on middle school and the transition to high school. Claudia Chibib, Brie Hall and Jourdan Sarate did a great job engaging the middle-schoolers with honest, funny and hopeful stories about growing up with a visible or invisible disability.
Day Two shifted the focus to adjusting to and navigating high school. Claudia and Brie were with us again, as well as Toby Al-Trabulsi and Kristen D. Gooch. There were more students this time, but it was clear the panel made connections with the students and kept their attention throughout the session. The panellists talked about the importance of discovering what you enjoy, making friends, finding place and their gratitude for school clubs and special interest groups. We were impressed by the willingness of some of the students to share their experiences with us.
On the final, and third day, the panel faced a group of about 90 high school students. Once again, our panel rose to the occasion. Kristen and Toby, with Sharizod Aboii and Natalie L., talked eloquently about their experiences leaving high school and navigating college and work. They talked about the challenges they faced getting accommodations needed to succeed at college, and the nuances of how and when to request accommodations. We ended the session with a round of insightful questions from the students.
This was my first experience facilitating a speaking event with these impressive OMOD speakers. Elizabeth Danner, the event coordinator, was thrilled by our presentations. She mentioned the panellists’ ability to give valuable insight and information while connecting with the students. She expressed excitedly that all three panels exceeded her already high expectations. I am impressed by the speakers and excited to have this chance at Art Spark to walk with them on this journey in the future.
Welcome Nano Boye Nagle
Nano Boye Nagle MLA is a poet and writer, drummer and workshop leader. She is an ordained Interfaith Minister, under the Sufi Movement of USA and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Dream Interpretation, from the Chaplaincy Institute of the Arts and Interfaith Ministries. She has a thriving EFT Meridian Therapy practice, as well as works for an agency providing in-home therapists for SED (severely emotionally disturbed) children and their families. Nano Boye was introduced to EFT in 2000 and uses it in her personal and professional practice.
Opening Minds, Opening Doors (OMOD) is a public speaker training program for adults with disabilities. We combine the art of storytelling with public speaking skills, so our speakers can bring their stories to the general public and challenge misconceptions about what it means to live with a disability. Through presentations at conferences and other events, our speakers show people we are all more alike than different. Follow events on the OMOD Facebook group.