Sunday, 24 July 2011

Blog Profile: "My Name is Sarah"

Sarah Ely
I found a new blog to add to my list of favourites.

“My Name Is Sarah”

I found it on another blog’s blogroll. I clicked on the link: “My Name is Sarah”. The first thing I saw was a picture of a dark-haired girl in her teens or early twenties, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, standing in front of a building that looked like it was maybe on a university campus. I could tell by her facial features that she had Down’s Syndrome, but that’s not what drew me to her face initially.

I saw her soft smile and her and her pretty eyes first, and then how confident she looked, with her arms crossed in front of her. Undernearth her picture were the words, “My name is Sarah. This is my real life story.”

According to Sarah’s profile, she is almost 22. She has a picture up on her profile of her at her high school graduation. I found other pictures of her as I explored her blog: on a trip to Holland, with family and friends, at music camp, working at her job at a fabric store…she makes several entries a week, with pictures. Most of her posts get at least a couple of comments (which I know from personal experience is hard to do!) The big picture that comes of it all is one of well-rounded young woman, happy in her life and well-integrated in her community.

Another Way of Creating Community and Opportunities

I know from the work that I’ve done that there are a lot of obstacles to creating opportunities for personal growth and community involvement for youth with intellectual disabilities. I think it’s wonderful that the Internet is becoming another place to create those opportunities. It brings up new challenges and questions for parents and educators, as we determine the best ways to educate people with intellectual disabilities to keep themselves safe on the Internet. But it also raises questions that are more fun to explore:

• How can we make social networking and blogging sites as accessible and easy-to-use as possible for people while keeping them safe as possible for people with intellectual disabilities to use?
• What kind of supports do people with intellectual disabilities need to safely and effectively use the Internet? Is there a way to build those supports into the websites themselves?
• What kind of things would people with intellectual disabilities presently use the Internet for? What would they like to use it for?

I use the Internet for a number of things: research, education, communication and community-building, self-expression. I love Sarah’s blog because she uses it for self-expression, communication, and community-building…and she certainly educates with it. I’m totally inspired by her refusal to let her disability stop her from having a “real life story”, and think it’s awesome that she uses her blog to share her story with the world.

So I encourage you to go take a look: I’ve also put a link to her blog up in my blogroll.

Go Sarah! You’ve got a fan in Canada who is behind you all the way. :)

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