2016 Ms. Wheelchair Washington

2016 Ms. Wheelchair Washington
Nicole Martini

Olympic Elementary


I had the wonderful honor of a homecoming appearance as Ms. Wheelchair America in my hometown, Chehalis Washington. I shared a “Power of Words” presentation at my elementary Alma Mater Olympic Elementary. It was so surreal to be back in the hallways of my childhood. The assemble went amazing!!!! The kids were open and energized. The local Chronicle covered the story of my homecoming. It was inspiring for me to see how far I have come in achieving my dreams. I also got to see the kids of my childhood friends, also a very surreal moment.

Alabama and Tenessee

My tour as Ms. Wheelchair America brought me to Huntsville, Alabama and Chattanooga Tennessee. Ms. Wheelchair Alabama, Paula Montgomery and Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, Bliss Welch hosted me on this amazing adventure.
BLISS AND Ipaula and I
The adventure started at the Mckinny Center in Huntsville Alabama, which is an employment center for people with disabilities. I was so overwhelmed with love from the clients of the employment center.
Mkinny Center

Next I spoke to a similar center called the Lowe Center.
lowe center
Then I spoke at Lee High School which was a great school. The students were very mature and responsive! The local news stations also covered my appearance.
lee high school

The next day I traveled in a Wheelchair Access taxi to Chattanooga Tennessee which was a 2 hour drive one way. So worth it though!!! I spoke to 1,000 Middle Schoolers at a local school. They were such a great audience!!! So lively! I was exhausted but they lifted me up. I call it crowd surfing when the crowd has so much energy that it lifts you up like a surfer on a wave.
East Hamilton
I finished the Alabama tour at the Abilities Ball. I felt so beautiful in my silver dress!! I was the keynote speaker at this ball for people with disabilities and their families. What an honor!!! Then of course I danced the night away :)
abilities ball

I’m thankful for my friend Carmen who traveled with me and took pics and helped me!

Salt Lake City

I was hosted as Ms.Wheelchair America in Ogden Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. I was only there for 48 hours, but it was a fun, action packed 48 hours. For starters I stayed in a quaint hotel, but it had a beautiful Koi pond behind it! That provided a place for relaxation and enjoyment. I also made a new and wonderful friend Former Ms. Wheelchair Utah 2012 Keli Babcock. She is a kindred spirit, and one of the leaders of the Roads to Independence Center in Ogden, UT. I had the wonderful privileged of sharing my story and platform with the clients of the Independence Center.I spoke to 3 different groups in one day. It was a whirlwind of making new friends, connections and inspiring people with disabilities to live life to the fullest!

White River High School

As Ms Wheelchair America I was invited as a guest speaker to White River High School in Buckley Washington. As a kid I use to go camping along White River all the time. This felt like destiny, full circle. I felt so honored by the staff and students for when I arrived they had a literal red carpet laid out for me!! The audience was a mixture of ages from Kindergarten to 12th grade, which was really fun!!! I shared my story and platform “Inclusion Revolution” with young and old, big and small. Then I did a question and answer time. I was thrilled at the demonstration of understanding each age group showed. I had a blast with the students as I was filled with joy at their positive feedback and honoring response.

Boise

I had an amazing trip as Ms. Wheelchair America to Boise, Id. I was there for four days. The first day I made an appearance to a kindergarten class. So fun!!!! Then my hostess took me to the Idaho Botanical Gardens, beautiful. The second day I spoke to a support group for parents with children with disabilities, which was a great treat because I really have a passion to speak to this audience because of my own story. As I spoke to them, my heart was so overwhelmed with emotion that I teared up. As I connected with the families there was such a beautiful exchange. The third day I danced with an Integrated Dance group called Open Arms. The dance group has members who are both disabled and able bodied. I had the privilege of collaborating with the dance director in choreographing a dance. This dance group really touched my heart. Part of my “Inclusion Revolution” platform is to advocate for people with disabilities in the performing art, so this event really opened the doors to furthering my platform.

Yakima


My trip to Yakima was really fun!! I spoke at the Youth Prevention Summit, which is an annual event where about 600 youth gathered for 3 days to receive teaching, inspiration, and mentoring in suicide and drug prevention in Washington. I was the final keynote speaker, which was such an honor. The crowd was energized and it gave me wings.

Nashville

My Nashville tour was amazing!!! The first night I arrived I got to see the sights a bit. I had dinner with my colleagues at a delicious restaurant. Then I rolled down Broadway and saw live music. It was awesome! The next day I met with a State Legislator from Tennessee at National Seating and Mobility my colleague Ann Eubanks and I are meeting with legislators to pass a bill in Congress that will provide better services for people who are wheelchair users. That evening I spoke to a large crowed of Belmont Occupational Therapy students and I sang them an original song called Possibilities. The exchange between the students and I was beautiful. They are preparing to help people with mobility impairments live independently, so the word of advice I gave them from my own story is to focus on hope, because hope is what fuels healing and strength. The following day I traveled to Chattanooga and had lunch with the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Texas and Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2012 Her and I went to the State Representatives office Corker, but we were unable to meet due to the current furlough. Instead we took pictures in front of the office, to make a statement. My final day in Nashville I went back to the Belmont OT program and worked with the students in smaller classroom settings. I focused on creating an atmosphere of empowerment in the Therapy process. My highlight was speaking to the family advocacy class. My parents are a great example of parenting to empower children with disabilities.

New England Area

I just returned home for a recuperation time after touring the New England area for 9 days. It was a wild ride!! For starters in 9 days I stayed in 6 hotels visited 6 different cities and traveled through 3 New England states, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. New England is a beautiful, historical part of the country and I really enjoyed my stay there. I saw the Boston cityscape, the beautiful Boston harbor, the Atlantic ocean, and the beautiful countryside. My tour started in the heart of Boston at the Boston Convention Center for the Abilities Expo. It was a magical 3 days of meeting like minded people, and many people with disabilities and their families. I felt right at home. After the Abilities Expo I hit the road in a beautiful rental wheelchair access van, which was provided free of charge by Ride- Away. What a blessing!!!! It was the Cadillac of wheelchair access vans. My long time friend Jen drove me too my events. The first stop was the University of New Hampshire where I shared my story and “Inclusion Revolution” with an amazing classroom of college students. I was impressed at the true desire to change the world that these students emanated. We had a very invigorating classroom discussion about inclusion and things that need to be done to make the U.S. a place of true equality. Next stop was Triangle in Malden, Massachusetts. Triangle is a non-profit organization that employs people with disabilities and they are a very impressive outreach. Within there walls they have numerous enrichment programs for people with disabilities, along with a warehouse, cafe, and television station in which they employ people with disabilities. I was blown away!! The people I met were to full of vision and purpose. I have had a dream of being a network television host and I believe that their television station, AbleVision, will be an opportunity to move in that direction. YAY!!!! Next stop was Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. There I shared my story and platform, then sang and danced for the staff and patients at Spaulding. It was a magical interaction, providing hope. Spaulding is the Cadillac of Rehab hospitals. The rooms have beautiful views of the harbor and state of the art mobility technology. I was impressed!! Then we made our way to the Framingham, MA Salvation Army where I gave a presentation with an anti-bullying organization to the youth and members staying at the Salvation Army. This was a chance to share my testimony and pray for people. I loved it!! By then I was exhausted. The next day we took a road trip to Hartford Connecticut where I made an appearance at Accessible Dispatch, which is a taxi company which dispatches wheelchair access taxis all over Connecticut and New York. The media was there and it was a magical time being interviewed on national television. Then we went to Mt. Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital. There I shared my story and sang for the patients. As I sang to them, their eyes filled with tears, which blessed my heart. I want to see them fly unlimited! The last Connecticut stop was Gaylord Rehabilitation Hospital. This hospital was so awesomley historical. The hall that I spoke and performed in was built in the 1600′s. The next day I finished my tour back in Boston by visiting the Easter Seals womens’ group THRIVE. I had a life changing discussion with some impressive women who use wheelchairs for mobility. What a whirlwind of life changing moments!

Pierce College

I had the amazing privileged to speak as Ms. Wheelchair America to the international students at Pierce College. The program for international students at Pierce College is quite profound. Students from developing countries are given scholarships to come to America and build a positive relationship between countries. There were 16 students that I spoke to from Indonesia, Pakistan, India, West Africa,and South Africa. I will never forget my time with these students! It was powerful! I shared my story, both the privileges I have as an American with a disability and the struggles I have faced and overcome through my faith, friends and encouragement. Then I opened up a group discussion about the struggles they are seeing in their own countries and what they are wanting to bring back to their countries from their time at Pierce College. The dialog that began was magical! The students began talking about social issues, economic issues, and human rights issues and how they could provide a solution. The most precious moment in the group dialog was when the students began to see the human right issues for people with disabilities worldwide and that they could provide help, support and awareness for them. I was beaming with pride and I believe in that classroom with 16 international students, that world change erupted!!

Center of Independence


Last week I was a guest speaker for a conference being held at the Center of Independence in Lakewood, WA. The conference was for youth with disabilities transitioning into independence. There were about 20 youth present at a conference table, so I made the presentation like an intimate conversation, rather than talking at them. I shared my own struggles with my disabilities and the barriers of acceptance, employment, and resources that I have faced. I also shared my victories and successes. I implored all of them that they all have dreams and talents and as they take their talents boldly into the world, it opens the doors to their dreams. One topic that came up in the group discussion was their own fear of showing their talents to the world. I encouraged them that if they take a leap of faith and try even though they are scared, that great things will happen for them and they will be successful. My time with the youth was mutually inspiring!

Ms. Wheelchair Washington Fundraiser!!!

Please come and support Jennifer Adams as she embarks on a wonderful journey this year as Ms. Wheelchair America! At this fundraising event there will be dinner, entertainment provided by Ms. Wheelchair America, and a silent and live auction. It will be great fun!!!
If you want to be there please purchase a ticket! A ticket will be required for attendance to this event.
More info and tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/439679!
If you cannot attend but are inspired to give please donate through my paypal link http://www.jenniferlynnadams.com/?page_id=673 PASS THIS ON!!! THANK YOU!!

Where do I even begin? I just arrived home from the most eventful, life changing week of my life! Last week I spent 6 days in Houston Texas competing for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America. The 6 days were packed with fun, workshops, making new friends and learning new tools and resources for disability advocacy. Some of the highlights of the trip for me were our day trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, dinner and dancing at a country BBQ, and all of the amazing workshop speakers that poured out knowledge and inspiration for all of us state title holders to be better advocates for people with disabilities. I had the privileged of hearing the stories of strong, independent women who use wheelchairs for mobility. I made friendships that will last a lifetime!! The last 2 days of the pageant consisted of our platform speeches and the crowning ceremony. I shared my platform of “Inclusion Revolution.” “Everyone has gifts and talents regardless of the body we have been given to live in this earth and when we take our talents out into the world, it breaks down the walls of discrimination.” During the crowning ceremony they announced the top 5. I was in the top 5 but my name was called last, so I was sweatin’ it. After the top 5 were announced each one of us gave our speeches again and were asked 2 questions by the judges one serious and one funny. My first question regarded healthcare for people with disabilities and my second question was “Tell us a funny story about being in a wheelchair.” I told the hilarious story of when I ran over a little boy on the first day of kindergarten. The audience was laughing. Then….. drum roll, was the announcement of fourth runner up, then 3rd runner up, then second runner up, and first runner up, which as the lovely Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, then the defining moment, Ms. Wheelchair America is….. Ms. Washington!!! My heart lept with joy!!! I was given flowers, and my crown and sash. I was filled with joy and awe and my eyes filled with tears. I cannot wait to go into the U.S. this year and share my story and help the american public see that having a disability is cool!! My goal and mission is to visit all 50 states and make the Ms. Wheelchair America Program a household name :) My fundraising efforts start immediately. If you are inspired to give to my travel fund. Please click on the donation button next to my blog. This is a safe Paypal link. Thank you all so much for your support and love!!! My life is forever changed!

Off to the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant

video
Check out Jenny's thoughts as she is arriving to the airport to go to the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant to represent the state of Washington!

Preschools

I have had the opportunity to make 2 preschool appearances as Ms. Wheelchair Washington in the past 2 weeks. This was a great way to kick off “Ride the Wave” for the summer!!! The kids were a joy as always!!! I shared my story of my dreams come true in a preschool version, and encourage them that they too have dreams that can come true. I have each child share their dream, which for preschoolers can be both inspiring and comical. After they share their dreams I tell them they can help each others dreams come true through good words and kind actions towards one another. Then I have them tell me ways they can help each other’s dreams come true. My interactive demonstration for them was a puppet show, with Gerriss the Giraffe and a cardboard wave and a surfboard. The Giraffe shared his dream of being a surfer and rode the wave of his dreams. The kids love Gerriss! He inspires them to “riding the wave of happiness too their dreams.” Then I sang my original song “Ride the Wave” with a dance and hand motions. Not only is it fun to see the kids react too the presentation, but the teachers get really into it too. I had one teacher tell me he loved my lesson plan because he is a surfer and he knows the exhilaration of riding a wave. I am looking forward to more opportunities to speak too kids this summer!!

Asia Pacific Cultural Center

I had the amazing privilege of being a guest speaker for the Commencement Luncheon at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center in Tacoma. The Luncheon was held to celebrate the graduation of youth involved at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center. The Cultural Center provides mentorship and celebration of the youth’s Asian heritage. The vision is to keep the cultural traditions alive in the youth’s lives. The Luncheon was a time of reflection and celebration. One of the groups performed an original New Zealand tribal warfare dance. It was powerful!!! Many of the youth shared their stories and gratitude for the mentorship they received throughout their schooling that enabled them to successfully graduate. They were also awarded certificates of graduation. I felt so blessed that my story got to be a part of their sending off. They truly are the promised leaders of tomorrow. If you want to hear my speech please watch the video below!


Diversity


In the past few weeks I have had the privilege of being a guest to several diversity committees as Ms. Wheelchair Washington. The first was the Elma Diversity Committee. Elma is a very small town and has very little diversity, but the people on the Elma Diversity Committee really have a passion to open the minds and lives of the youth in Elma to more experiences with diversity. We spent the meeting brain storming ways to bring guests into the schools and taking the youth on trips to new and more diverse locations. The goal is to expose the youth to new experiences and people in order to press them past their comfort zone and set them up for success in interacting with the world. Elma School District has plans to have me as a guest speaker in the Fall. I was also a guest at the Tacoma Diversity Committee. It was so refreshing to hear the plans and efforts to celebrate diversity in Tacoma from advocacy efforts for the disabled and to education effort in the Tacoma Schools. I shared my story, my Ms. Wheelchair Washington platform and my future dreams with everyone in the committee. After the meeting ended I had several invitations to speak at events coming up this summer. Lastly, I attended the Pierce Transit Council meeting regarding the upcoming route cuts in public transportation. In order to give a voice to myself and others who rely solely on public transportation, I made a public comment “public transportation is the back bone of a community and we need to make every creative effort to salvage the Pierce County Transit system.” The committee later referenced my comment during their meeting which was a big victory! I feel so privileged to have this platform and the opportunity to have a voice in advocacy efforts in my community!

Ride the Wave

As Spring transitions into summer and schools are wrapping up the year, it is time to think and plan for some summer fun!!I have created a summer youth program called “Ride the Wave,” which will an extension of my platform as Ms. Wheelchair Washington. I will travel to summer camps all over Washington sharing my story and teaching youth the power behind positive life choices and relating the message to analogies of waves of creativity, inspiration and purpose. My “Ride the Wave” presentations will also consist of song, dance and interactive games. If you have a summer program you would like me to attend, please email me!

Ms. Wheelchair America Fundraiser

 
 
The fundraiser for me, Ms. Wheelchair Washington, was amazing!! All the money from the fundraiser goes towards sending me to the national competition for Ms. Wheelchair America. The competition will be held in Houston, Texas from July 15th through the 21st. The fundraiser was so magical. I was really anxiously awaiting this event all week. Family and friends gathered together to support and celebrate the accomplishment of being Ms. Wheelchair Washington. I felt so loved!! Everything flowed beautifully. The first hour people slowly filed in a mingled, I flitted around like a butterfly saying hi and taking pictures. Then dinner was served. While the guests were eating dinner they were entertained by vocalists and dancers and I went backstage and changed into my dance outfit. I was so self-conscious in my outfit at first. I’m not use to wearing dance clothes. I’ve been a closet dancer for years and this was my first live dance performance. I was so nervous, but once I got on stage I felt magical energy coming out of me! It was a thrilling experience to dance! I’m forever changed. After my dance performance my dear friend Rob and MC for the night filled the audience in on my platform and our friendship story as I went backstage and changed back into my dress, crown and sash. Then I came out and shared my vision as Ms. Wheelchair Washington to change schools with the message of “The Power of Words” and to start and integrated arts program called Pure Expressions. Then I sang “Thank You for the Music” to share my gratitude for their support. Then we finished off the night with dancing!!!! When I left the event I felt like I was flying! I am so excited to go to nationals!!

 
 

Peninsula High School

As Ms. Wheelchair Washington I had the amazing privilege of being a guest speaker at Peninsula High School. I presented “The Power of Words” in the health classroom for all 6 periods in the day. It was a crazy ride! The day flies by fast with only 5 minutes between class and 30 mins for lunch. For each class I shared my story and asked them questions to get them thinking about ways they can create a positive environment in their school. Then I split them up into groups and had them brainstorm ways they could make positive changes at school. Each class had a different energy.Surprisingly the 6th period class had the highest energy. It was like presenting to GLEE! They were so inquisitive, deep and they got me to sing for them. Every time I have these back to back presentations I learn so much and have the opportunity to grow and learn exponentially because the repetition of presentations. I also got to talk to several teachers throughout the day about the inclusion model of education. It was so inspiring to collaborate with visionaries in the education world.

Jeremiah Gibbs Fundraiser

 
I had a magical day at the fundraiser for Jeremiah! He is 3 1/2 years old and was born with limb deficiencies. His Mom and several women planned an extravagant day of talent, pageant princesses, clowns, singers, dancers, and an auction to raise funds for his needs. I went as Ms. Wheelchair Washington and had the privilege of being the Mistress of Ceremonies. The purpose of this fundraiser was so close to my heart that I had to choke back tears at times as I shared my story and sang songs from the heart. The day was filled with the light of positive, good people, gathering for a common cause. Jeremiah wins the hearts of all who meet him. He is so amazing and I’m honored that I got to be part of his world for a day!

Lowell Elementary

I was invited to come speak at Lowell Elementary School and share my “Power of Words” message. This was by favorite elementary schools presentation to date! I can attribute the event going smoothly to a well prepared staff. The staff had prepared the students and the staff for the anti-bullying message. I presented twice, one for the Kindergarten through second graders, then again to the 3rd through 5th graders. Both groups responded so positively to the message of “The Power of Words.” I am learning the power of vulnerability in sharing my story, so I shared my experience with looking different, my up bringing, being teased, and the amazing power that came to heal through positive words and support. I especially loved that after each presentation I would have a gaggle of kids surrounding me asking inquisitive questions. The message came alive in them right away. After my presentation I had kids saying, “You’re really amazing,” “You’re pretty,” “I like your singing.” When I left I felt like I was flying!

Seattle Adaptive Sports Fundraiser


This event was just pure fun!! It was a fundraiser for Seattle Adaptive Sports. There was an auction and a basket ball game between local students and the Seattle Sonics Wheelchair Basketball team. Of course the Sonics totally creamed the local students ;) I sang the national anthem for the game and got to meet and inspire guests to give to a worthy cause.

Eatonville High School


Disability Awareness Day happens every spring at Eatonville High School. I spoke for this event last year, being there for a second time was incredible! More so because I could see how far I have come from the last time I spoke there last year. I was there for the whole school day. For the large assemble I spoke on “Creating and Environment of Vision.” I am learning the power of vulnerability, so I shared my personal experience of reaching my goals as a motivational speaker through positive words and support from friends and family. I implored them that they too could help each other reach there dreams and discover their purpose through positive words and actions. I also sang an original song that was inspired by the students and their hearts to be excellent in diversity awareness. Then I went into 6 different classrooms and shared my story in a small group setting. I split the students up into small groups and asked inquisitive questions about their perception of disabilities and how to respond to people who are disabled. The small groups were so amazing and the students really responded to the questions and peer interactions positively. I also had the privilege of meeting with the Teaching Academy students who’s sole purpose in meeting is to prepare for a future working in education. We had an amazing conversation about incorporating the inclusion model of education into their visions. I also visited the special education classroom. I came away from the day with a greater resolve to advocate for the inclusion model of education, which would include students with disabilities in the classroom with mainstream students through support from staff and peers.

Ravishing Women's Conference

I had the amazing privilege of going to the 2013 Ravishing Women’s Conference in Bellevue Washington this past weekend. It was put on by the Indian community of Bellevue to recognize women who came from struggles to success. The conference also raised awareness about human trafficking. There was a fashion show and a beauty pageant. It was a glamorous, dazzling and inspiring event. I also had the opportunity to meet a women who is passionate about integrated dance for youth with disabilities. We will be joining forces to get the integrated arts program in Tacoma off the ground. Below is the video of me singing a song for the crowning ceremony of the beauty pageant. I wrote this song just for the occasion.

I am Ms. Wheelchair Washington 2013!!!


This past weekend I had the great privilege of participating in the 2013 Ms. Wheelchair Washington Pageant. It was a magical day full of opportunities to connect with amazing people! Not only was it an incredible day connecting and collaborating with like-minded people, but I was also crowned Ms. Wheelchair Washington!! This is a dream come true! As Ms. Wheelchair Washington my platform is “The Power of Words.” I will be taking the message of the anti-bullying campaign that I started called “The Power of Words” too the youth of Washington State. I started this campaign through my motivational speaking business, SHIFT. The “Power of Words” campaign is already in motion as I have already spoken at several schools this year. In my presentations I share my story and experience with bullying in school. I also share the healing experience of positive support from my friends and family. Through my story and inspirational admonishment, I empower students with the message that they too can built each other up through positive words and actions. The Ms. Wheelchair Washington Title opens up so many new doors of opportunity to take “The Power of Words” to the greater area of Washington State!!! I also have a passion for the arts; singing, dancing, and acting. When I was in school I had many opportunities to be part of the arts through school stage productions, but when I entered the adult world my disability impeded me from being included in mainstream theaters’ productions. Fortunately, I recently got involved with an integrated dance group called Light in Motion, in Seattle, which is an inclusive group, incorporating able bodied and disabled persons in art of dance. Being part of this group has been empowering as I have had the chance to be part of the arts again! As Ms. Wheelchair Washington my vision is to start an inclusive arts program in Tacoma, where people of all abilities can dance, sing, act and SHINE! I am so honored to carry the platform of “The Power of Words” as Ms. Wheelchair Washington, for the State of Washington!!!