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For my blog post this week, I interviewed Arte Mays. I have known Arte for several years because he is a friend of my supervisor. He is great to talk to and clearly enjoys helping people. For example, he helps administer an adult advocacy group on Facebook which is primarily for Delawareans with disabilities. He also enjoys mentoring kids, more on that below. In this article, I will summarize my interviews with Arte on August 3 and 5.
Arte’s disability is cerebral palsy. My reason for specifying disability is to demonstrate, as the Who’s Who project continues, that my focus is not on one type of disability. Like myself, he was a child when the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed. As a result, he has not experienced the disability-related problems of older generations in the disability community. Arte lives on his own and has done so for 8 and a half years. Moving from a facility to living on his own was a challenge because of needing to be more independent. Another challenge was adjusting to not having someone check on him frequently. He has help morning and evening, such as getting in and out of bed. Arte’s aides know his routines. He enjoys having the freedom to do what he wants to do. Arte has worked at a YMCA. He also has a variety of volunteer experience, including work at an after-school program for youth, United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware’s Manito summer camp and the Mary Cambell Center. He graduated high school and attended some years at Delaware Technical and Community College majoring in human services. Arte plans to resume his education in the future. He has a special ability to connect with kids at the YMCA. At the Mary Cambell center, He helps kids do activities and goes on field trips with them. He has also gone with the kids out to dinner. He enjoys being a mentor at the center. There are other things worth noting about Arte.
Due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, Arte has not been able to work. However, he still lives an active life. He enjoys hanging out with friends and family, swimming and going out to eat. As a result of Covid-19, he orders food delivered using Doordash and GrubHub. He enjoys listening to music, rap and R&B. Arte finds Amazon Alexa useful. Arte listens to music with Alexa and reads email. He also uses the device to hear the news and make phone calls. Arte has advice for people, including those in the disability community.
Although I have always known what having a disability is, I know that some people acquire disabilities mid-life. Accepting and handling a disability can be challenging. Arte gave this advice: “”You can do anything you put your mind to. If you have any kind of support, make sure you always have someone to talk to.” He also pointed out that achieving goals takes effort. “If you want to move out on your own, set goals to achieve. Learn how to be more independent, such as grocery shopping and writing checks. If you don’t know how to do something, ask for help.” In summary, perseverance is a combination of learning skills and gaining the confidence to achieve a goal. Well said, Arte!
Question for readers: If you experience disability-related challenges, what strategies do you use to overcome them? I will return next week with another article.