Not found in textbooks

Don’t you just love when you have a serendipitous moment? They don’t happen everyday!

I had one of these a couple of weeks ago when a children’s book image popped up on my computer. The book title caught my attention right away, All The Way To The Top, with an image of a girl on the front cover climbing up stairs.

Immediately the story resonated with me and our mission at Loveworks, where we believe that you are never too young to be a leader and make a difference in this world. 

I was so captured by reading the description of this true story, Amazon could not ship this out quickly enough and fortunately, our local Barnes & Noble had one copy available in the store. 

The book is about how one girl’s fight for Americans with disabilities changed everything. Imagine what life would be like as a young kid wanting to go to places like the zoo, school, an amusement park or mall and not being to because of most places not being equipped with proper doors or wheelchair ramps. 

This was Jennifer Keelan’s life growing up. She was diagnosed at an early age with Cerebral Palsy and had to use a wheelchair to get around everyday. While parts of Jennifer’s early childhood was normal, other parts were not, like wanting to go places with her fully able-bodied friends that were not accessible to her. 

When she was 6 years old (the same age that my own daughter spends most of her time playing on a swingset, riding her bike and dressing up baby dolls), Jennifer found herself fighting for equal rights for herself and thousands of others with disabilities. That was the start of her participation and leadership in many of protests. 

There are several important takeaways from Jennifer’s story that can apply to our lives:

  1. You don’t have to be an adult to make a difference. Start now, right where you are at. You have the ability to influence more than you know around you. 
  2. Change can be slow. The ADA has been a law for 30 years, but the fight for disability rights continues.  
  3. Do what’s in your heart. If you believe deeply in something, use your voice and say it loud.

One of my favorite parts of Jennifer’s story is her participation in the Capital Crawl which was a critical demonstration to convince lawmakers to pass the ADA. Jennifer climbed 84 steps that day and became one of the key figures to better the lives of countless people with disabilities. 

Check out her real-life story here:

Jennifer’s Graduation Story (Subtitles)

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