Our Blog

Building a Community of Empowered Voters

Building a Community of Empowered Voters with Disabilities By: April Meredith   Tennessee having one of the lowest rates in the country for registered eligible voters and in election turnout is unfortunate and unacceptable. Motivation may be an issue in certain cases; but for some individuals with disabilities, lack of knowledge and accessibility are oftentimes the reasons. That is why Empower Tennessee is taking proactive measures aimed at minimizing barriers potential Mid TN voters may be experiencing. For example, Tennessee requires a federal or state-issued photo ID in order to vote. However, we learned many of the Community Based...

An unexpected discovery: A participant’s perspective on the 2018 Youth Leadership Academy

2018 Youth Leadership Academy from a Participant’s Perspective By: Josh Riley Introduction Empower Tennessee hosted the 2018 Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) on June 27 and 28 in collaboration with the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. This year’s YLA theme was, “I AM Who I AM (and that’s pretty cool)”. Peer Facilitators lead workshops and activities, which provided a unique and exciting opportunity for youth with disabilities to further develop the skills needed to make the most out of the wide range of services and resources available to support their transition to adulthood. The goal for the two-day event was to teach self-advocacy to...

An Oasis for All in Hendersonville

What Mary’s Magical Place Means to Me and Says to the World By: April Meredith   August 2018 marks the grand opening month of Mary’s Magical Place, an all-inclusive playground located in Hendersonville. I cannot express just how excited I am for this project to come to fruition. Many Middle Tennesseans have been thinking of it as a playground for children with disabilities; but, it is that and so much more. In accordance with their vision, Mary’s Magical Place will provide recreation for kids with and without disabilities alike, as well as for parents and loved ones who have...

Time to Cure the Stigma

“Happy birthday. I love you,” she said in a barely discernable whisper, mustering every bit of strength she had left. I was turning 14 years old and my mom had been a breast cancer survivor. However, the dreaded disease came back with a vengeance and on April 20, 1992 I visited my mom in her hospital room for what turned out to be the last time. I was too young to fully comprehend the severity of the situation. Nonetheless, a mere 2 days later I was woken early to the news that my mom had passed away. A few weeks...

A Personal Story from a TBI Survivor

In honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month, we are thrilled to share the personal survival story of a local veteran who is one of Empower Tennessee’s Empowered Ladies peer support group members. My name is Susan Kelly Sanders and I go by Kelly. I am a 56-year-young military veteran. My adventure began in 1981 when I joined the Alabama Army National Guard while in the ROTC at Middle Tennessee State University.  Funny sidebar, I joined the ROTC program because it offered a free trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana to “march” in a few parades. Despite my initial motivation,...

It’s Never Too Late To Advocate

Valentine’s Day was especially sweet for many Tennesseans this year as it was the same day as Disability Day on the Hill. DDH 2018 connected self-advocates and advocates across the state with their elected officials at the newly renovated Cordell Hull building. Despite the dreary weather outside, inside collaborative spirits were high and many individuals with disabilities, including 6 members of our Empowered Ladies* peer support group participated in the day’s events, met with representatives, and provided encouragement to each other. Love was definitely in the air last Wednesday. These women demonstrated respect for themselves, passion on issues of their...