Speaking In the West Virginia HillsSeptember 16, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Speaking Engagements | Leave a comment
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, self advocacy, Speaking Engagements
Last week Megan and I had the opportunity to speak at the People First conference in West Virginia. It was a wonderful experience. The conference, this year, focused on building and maintaining healthy relationships and we were asked to present as one of the keynotes in addition to leading two breakout sessions. It was a rich experience for both of us.
We spent most of our larger presentation discussing how we met and using our story to encourage those in the audience to explore and develop their interests as a way to build relationships. One point which slipped my mind during our talk is that by connecting with people around a common interest, people are less likely to react based on preconceived notions and stereotypes if they know that there is a mutually shared interest.
Our breakout sessions got a bit more nitty-gritty as we talked about our lives as a married couple, the joys and challenges that we face from day to day and ways we’ve learned to move through and around those obstacles. We were fortunate enough to have lots of audience participation in both breakout sessions which made for lots of wonderful dialogue and questions.
As usual, our work didn’t end with the closing of our sessions. The second half of the conference focused on the risks involved in inappropriate relationships. Though much of the second keynote aimed at educating people about abuse toward people with disabilities, Megan and I had the opportunity to show those in attendance that there is an alternative to being a victim. This also opened the door for us to talk about the self-defense program we teach for people with disabilities. Perhaps next year we’ll have the opportunity to present on self protection and empowerment.
All in all, it was a wonderful three days and I hope we get the chance to do it again next year.