Top 5 Articles of 2013 on Ramp Your Voice!


Happy New Year 2014 replace 2013 concept on the sea beach
For the last post of the year, I wanted to highlight the top 5 articles of 2013 on the Ramp Your Voice! blog.  Since establishing Ramp Your Voice! in July, I have received a plethora of responses; from personal accounts regarding what it is like to be a person with a disability to wonderful words of encouragement for discussing issues that affect the well-being of those with disabilities.  With each commentary, I learn and grow as a disability rights consultant and advocate, and the responses motivate me to continue writing about topics that are important to those in the disability community.  The 5 articles listed are the ones that resonated with so many of you, as well as myself.
The best is yet to come in 2014 as I prepare to bring you even more educational, informative, and moving topics.  For right now…let’s take a stroll (or a roll) down memory lane…

5)  Remembering Nelson Mandela:  A Man Who Fearlessly Ramped His Voice for Equality & Justice for All
Earlier in December, the world lost one of the most influential and inspiring civil rights leaders, former South African President Nelson Mandela.  Madiba’s passing affected us all, especially those who are advocates within their respective fields.  I took the time to write about what Nelson Mandela’s perseverance meant to me, and what I planned to do to keep the work he began alive.  Writing the article was my way to pay respect to this great man, and his legacy.
4)  Finding Our Missing Children with Special Needs
In 2013, there were numerous heartbreaking stories broadcast across the country of children missing who had special needs.  Tragically, some of these stories did not have happy endings, and some remained unsolved.  It pains me to know that a child is away from those they love, and could possibly be in harm’s way.  To hear the devastation in the voices of the parents or guardians of those missing tugs at the heartstrings; I could not fathom the feelings of thoughts that plague these families every second that their loved one is missing from their lives.
There has to be a push in creating more awareness about the triggers that can cause a child with special needs to go missing; better understanding of the unique challenges in finding these children; and equipping law enforcement officers and search crews with the appropriate tools and resources needed to bring them home.  Writing this article was my way of leading the charge in such efforts.
3)  “It’s All In Your Head!” – Living with an Invisible Disability
When one thinks about the word “disability,” the typical images that comes to mind are of someone in a wheelchair or zipping around in a scooter, a person walking with a cane, etc.  Those living with invisible disabilities, such as chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, mental illnesses such as depression, and other health conditions are missing from the conversation when disability-related issues are discussed.  Having an invisible disability does not make a person “less disabled” or inferior to someone with a visible disability.  The response I received from a dear friend about their own plight with an invisible disability created a deeper understanding for me of what those within this group endure from both the general society, and the disabled community.
2)  Why Representation Matters in Children’s Books & Media
This article was imperative for me to write because it correlates with part of the reason why I established Ramp Your Voice!  Representation allows members of various minority groupings to see images of themselves that are not typically widespread in society.  Children, especially, should have the opportunity to see characters and individuals they can admire and view as role models.  Individuals who lack such exposure may believe that they do not, and will never, “measure up” to the standards of beauty or abilities they view on television and in movies, read in books and magazines, etc.  As a result, they may begin to hate what makes them unique, and fail to develop a sense of pride and respect about their backgrounds and way of life.  Creating a book series that will allow young children, particularly young girls with disabilities and those of color, to read stories about characters that they can truly relate to is why I am an aspiring children’s author.
1)  Ramp Your Voice!, the Brainchild Movement of Vilissa Thompson
This is the article that started it all!  Writing this piece paved the path on my journey as a disability rights consultant and advocate.  The response I received about the creation of Ramp Your Voice! was overwhelming.  I was not sure of the reception I would receive in my particular focus of creating a space for minorities with disabilities to feel included in the disability community; discussing disability topics that mattered; and propelling my own voice and experiences as a young professional woman of color with a disability.  The article clearly explained who I was, what my visions were for Ramp Your Voice!, and how I wanted to define my place in the disability rights movement.  To read the article five and a half months later showed me just how far I have come, and how much more I have yet to achieve.
This is my list of the top five stories on the Ramp Your Voice! blog.  Tell me, fellow disability rights advocates and allies, and followers, what were your favorite stories of 2013?  What would you like to see on the blog in 2014?  You can write your responses in the comments section below, or send an email to Vilissa@rampyourvoice.com.  
All there is left to say is:  Happy New Year, everyone!!!
(Featured headline image:  Courtesy of Phil Moore London)


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