Practising What I Preach

Hey, guys! I know that it’s been a while, but I felt very guilty about my blog and decided to do something about it. I’m always saying how people and governments need to make more effort to make things more accessible for people with disabilities – but then I realised that my own blog wasn’t as accessible as it could be. As a disability blogger myself, I made it my priority to change it so that it would be. So, I took an extra month’s break after the holiday was over to make some major changes to my blog. But before I get to the new accessibility changes to The Wheelchair Teen, let me first give you some follow-up updates.

Follow-up Updates

Me in my new electric wheelchair – Titania

My new electric wheelchair finally arrived! I wrote in my post Wheelchair Blues and Getting Turned Away about how the government had accidentally taken away my old one. Well, it’s finally been replaced by an electric wheelchair with new features such as headlights and longer mileage. The person who delivered the wheelchair was ashamed about how many months it had taken to arrive. With an electric wheelchair, I now have the freedom to be able to visit the library to work or to go out for a long ride without getting tired. I’ve already joined a social club since receiving it and it feels amazing to finally be able to speak to and meet new people in person because I rarely leave the house. All of these freedoms had been taken away from me when the old one was.

It wasn’t a good experience riding around in it at first though. I’d only used my old electric wheelchair to ride around school – so being on the streets with one is a new experience. I burst out crying after taking my new electric wheelchair for its first spin around the block; when you’re in an electric wheelchair, people treat you very differently than when you’re in a manual one. Their prejudices seem to shift drastically and in a negative way. I’m still the same person – but it fascinates me how vastly different people view me depending on which type of wheelchair I leave the house in. I’ll write more about that in a later blog post though. Basically, accepting the new electric wheelchair is a difficult journey – just like accepting my stairlift was last year.

A short video of me riding in my new electric wheelchair

I also mentioned in my post Wheelchair Blues and Getting Turned Away that I had been turned away from three different psychologists because they felt uncomfortable treating a disabled person – even though my mental struggles had nothing to do with my disability. A further disappointing update about that is: I was rejected by yet another psychologist during the holiday. It was a tough moment because I really needed it. This is my fourth rejection and I’m starting to lose hope. Psychological support shouldn’t just be a privilege for the non-disabled.

Me during the educational talk. The rainbow circle is for anonymity.

For those who were wondering, my second educational talk to children about disabilities went really well! I mentioned that I was travelling to a school to give talks again and some people have been asking about how it went. The school was happy to have me back sharing my story with their students once more. I presented to six different classes teaching them about disabilities and how to treat disabled people.

I felt as if there was a good connection between me and the students and that I was able to teach them a lot. Even some of the teachers were shocked by the facts that I shared and were moved by my story. Afterwards, the children wrote thank you notes to me about what they liked the most about my talk, and almost all of them tried to sign them by writing with a pen in their mouth like me. It was mostly just scribbles, but I felt really touched that they had all tried. Public speaking is definitely one of my passions. There’s something about a stage and a spotlight that makes me feel very comfortable. You can read about my first educational talk here: My First Educational Talk to Children About Disabilities! – The Wheelchair Teen

Me performing in a school production of Romeo and Juliet

I’ve also decided to practise what I preach when it comes to my future career. One of the main things that I advocate for on my blog is more disabled representation in media because I believe that it’ll help how society views us by normalizing us more. Therefore, I’ve decided to start searching for future courses which will help me to be that representation that I’m always talking about: acting courses! “Be the change you want to see” is a wise quote that a friend of mine recently said to me.

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Changes to My Blog

Having ALT text or descriptive captions under pictures is important for blind users who use screen-readers. Even though they aren’t able to see the picture – the screen-reader reads the ALT text or caption out loud for them so that they can have some kind of idea of what it is trying to show. This was pointed out to me by a very helpful fellow disability blogger. Most of my recent posts already had them, but none of my old ones did. So, I’ve gone back and added descriptive captions to every picture on all of my old posts to make them more accessible to blind readers.

As a digital artist myself, I felt guilty about the fact that I used to use cartoon pictures on my posts without getting permission first and without sourcing them correctly. I spent most of my month’s break replacing almost every single picture from all of my old posts with either my own images, or images from sites with pictures that are free for commercial use such as Pexels.com, Unsplash.com, and Pixabay.com.

An illustration of a manual hoist lift that I created for one of my old blog posts

Unfortunately, those sites don’t have a lot of variety when it comes to images about disabilities, so I had to use my graphic design skills to digitally sketch a lot of the replacement pictures. It was difficult to find pictures of things like manual hoist lifts and wheelchairs with umbrellas attached to them – I therefore had to spend hours sketching and re-creating them on my own for the blog posts that needed them.

Additionally, I felt led to re-write two of my posts from when I was younger because I no longer agree with them. One of them was my post: ‘Disabled’ vs. ‘Physically-Challenged’ and Other Such Terms. I thought it was important to use the post to properly explain why I use the term ‘disabled’ and not ‘differently-abled’ – instead of the confusing story that was shared there before. A lot of people ask me why I use the term ‘disabled’ even though it sounds so negative. It’s probably the question that I get asked the most on my blog, so I thought it would be handy to have a post that I can easily point them in the direction of which contains all of my opinions on the matter. The other was my Introductions page which I updated to be more user-friendly and to contain a handy navigation menu.

I also split my old posts into proper paragraphs (because I used to write in huge writing blocks) and turned them all black like my recent posts are. Lastly, I did other general things to clean my blog up like correcting the logo which I had hastily created when I was only sixteen:

My old logo and the new, corrected version

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I know that people rarely go back and read my old posts – but I still thought that it was important to make these accessibility and image changes. It just didn’t sit right with me that I was continuing to share posts about accessibility when most of my own blog wasn’t in a way that most blogs are. Anyway, it feels good to finally be done with all of the changes and ready to share new posts with you all. Thank you so much for sticking with me during this tricky time. 🥰

71 thoughts on “Practising What I Preach

    1. I did! 😊 It was a lot of work but I’m glad that I took the time out to make these changes. Thank you so much for reading and commenting Joanna even though it’s been such a long time. I hope that you’ll have a lovely weekend! 🥰

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  1. You certainly have been busy! Most everyone of them sounds positive & like they will grow the way that you want them to. Let’s hope, of course. I agree, the more “common” or something being out there, the more it is “accepted” by those who aren’t “as informed”. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been busy – my blog means a lot to me so I wanted to give it all of the care and work that it needed to become better. Thank you, I hope that they’ll grow the way that I want them to as well. I’m glad that you agree: when children and teenagers grow up seeing representation on TV their whole lives – it becmes more normal to them when they’re older. A lot of children stare and point when I pass them on the street but they wouldn’t if they saw more people like me on-screen. I promise to keep up the good work! Thank you so much for these positive encouragements. Have a lovely weekend! 💚🌻💚

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  2. Welcome back, I hope you’re getting on still with the new chair.

    Each of our images also has a tag called an “alt” tag. Alternative. It stems from the very earliest days, when lots of browsers were unable to display images. You’re supposed to use that tag to describe the image although these days, not many of us do, because browsers all show pictures.

    But potentially, software that reads the page for a blind person would also pick that tag up. At least, that’s my hunch.

    WP can capture that tag, but I have no idea if they render it properly on our sites. It’s not something that’s visible under normal circumstances because browsers usually just show the picture instead,.

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    1. Thank you, it feels really good to finally be back. Things are still going well with the new chair – I’m a little bit more comfortable in it now that I’ve driven it for a little longer. I did not know about the ‘alt’ tag – thank you for telling me about it. I’ve now edited the post to also include ALT Text as an alternative to using descriptive captions. I’m glad you informed me of this otherwise the post would contain a little bit of misinformation because it states that descriptive captions are the only solution for screen-readers. I did some quick research and screen-readers do indeed also read ALT text so your hunch was right.

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      1. I did this on my posts a few months ago, I do it on anything new but only went back a year – when I looked at my stats, the number of reads from more than twn weeks ago was less than 1%.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Fair enough – that makes a lot of sense. I’m very happy that you went back and did it for your old posts a while ago. You clearly are also someone who cares about inclusivity on the web. I have a lot of respect for you.

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      3. A lot of little things help, I find. My eyes need contrast so I just keep my site green on white. My reader has no problem. A lot of interesting-sounding blogs fell at the first hurdle because I c an’t actually see what the post says. Or, the author used such a fancy theme, my software gets confused.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I actually prefer it to my old powerchair because it has much more features and capabilities. I’m glad that the talks at the school went well too. It was such an incredible experience organised by some passionate and amazingly kind people. But most of all, I felt as if I made a real difference by doing them. Thanks, it’s nice to be back! Have a lovely weekend! ❤❤❤

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  3. So happy to see you with Titania and all the freedom she represents! you’ve been working really hard on making your blog accessible to people with visual impairments. You’ve given great examples to spread the word on the simple changes we can make to increase their access to the information about our images. I really enjoyed reading about your presentations to students and I’m glad you’re thinking about a career where you can increase visibility for people with disabilities!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very happy too. Recieving Titania was an emotional moment since with losing my old one and the lockdown – I would sometimes go weeks at a time without leaving the house. Titania means independance and freedom and I’ve been desperately craving both. I’m glad that you think that I’m giving great examples for change. I’ve been excluded from so much in my life, so I want to make everything that I create as welcoming as it can be to as much people as possible. I’m happy that you enjoyed reading about my talks – it was an amazing experience. One that I’ll remember for many years to come ❤

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  4. Welcome back dear. ❣️❣️ Trust me, I thought I mistakenly unfollowed you and that’s why I am not getting any blogs from you to read. But here you are today after a good break, thank you for coming today and clearing my doubt 😄😄😄

    Glad you got one good electronic chair. ❣️❣️ Have someone to good time dear, happy weekend 🤝

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 😊 I’m glad that I was able to clear away your doubt – I did disappear for quite a while so I understand your confusion. My new electric wheelchair is absolutely amazing, I’m very happy that I have her now too. I can do so much more with an electric one. I hope that you’ll have a very happy weekend too 🥰

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  5. Glad to read from you again! I don’t know if you know this other website for mostly free graphics (you only have to credit the author) it’s freepik.es
    I hope it can provide more variety for your future posts and projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m touched that you’re happy that I’m back. I really missed posting while I was gone. I had not heard of freepik before, thank you so much for introducing me to it! I’ve already tested it out and it looks as if it might be able to help me some more when searching for images for posts. So thanks once again – I really appreciate it

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    1. Aw, thank you so much! 😊 I’m glad that you thought so – it was a very hard and time-consuming process and I almost felt like giving up at multiple points. But I knew that it was important to do so I carried it through to completion.

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  6. Simone, I felt really bad about you losing your electronic chair! Now I am overjoyed that you have one that is even better! Lights will allow you to be safer in your chair. Use it to do all the activities and community service that you enjoy.

    Glad to hear about the success of your talks with students…so important that they meet someone who is disabled but doesn’t let it slow them down! The acting lessons sound like fun.

    So good to hear from you. ❤ All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very happy with my new electric wheelchair too. I can’t wait to use the lights for the first time. I’ve never gone out when it’s dark before but now I want to do it just to try them out 😊 It is important that they see someone who is disabled who introduced them to the world of disability and all of the amazing things that disabled people are capable of. I felt really honoured to be there and it was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. It’s good to hear from you too. Have a lovely weekend! ❤🌷❤

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  7. A lot of changes… No reason to look at you in an other way…. same as with bikes and e-bikes…. you are just upgraded and more modern 🙂 You also had great ideas about making changes to your blog. Great work !
    Many greetz,
    Rudi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – there is no reason to look at me in a different way just because I’m using an electric wheelchair. But people see it as me being more severly disabled and therefore requiring more assistance with a motorized chair which is wrong. I like how you’ve explained it here – it’s just like getting an upgrade – nothing more, nothing less. I’m glad that you enjoyed the changes that I made to my blog. Thank you! Have a great weekend Rudi and I look forward to returning to read your incredibly interesting posts.

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    1. I’m glad too! It gives me much more freedom and independence which I’m very thankful for. I appreciate your prayers regarding the fourth psychologist. It’s quite a sad situation. Your support and prayer means so much to me. It feels good to have Christian blogger friends.

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      1. I love the clean, new look :). I have to admit, as an English teacher, I was bothered by the lack of paragraphing. I don’t usually make criticisms, though, because it’s not my job. But I have to tell you that it’s refreshing to see the differenYou ARE making a difference.

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  8. Thank you for sharing a part of your life and photos/videos!!… sometimes we just have to stop the world for a time and reboot!.. you are doing wonderful and you can be proud of yourself!.. you are a role model for anyone, with or without disabilities… as for changes “Any piece of knowledge I acquire today has a value at this moment exactly proportioned to my skill to deal with it. Tomorrow, when I know more, I will recall that piece of knowledge and use it better. “ (Mark van Doren)… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – sometimes all we need is a little pause and reboot while we catch our breath and get ourselves together. Thank you so much for these very kind words! They truly touched me. It means a lot that you think that I’m a role model. You are a great and valuable friend to me, I hope you know that. That Mark van Doren quote is very true and is exactly what I did with my knowledge of how to make my blog more accessible.

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  9. Welcome back! It’s so impressive that you took the time to go back and make changes to your old posts. Even your logo…it took me a while to understand what was wrong with the old one LOL. I’d never noticed! I’m looking forward to your electric wheelchair vs. manual wheelchair post now! And I really, really hope you find someone who doesn’t get intimidated by the prospect of taking you as a patient – because THEY are the cowards!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m STILL trying to see the difference between the old logo and the new one… :/
      But then, I’m also trying to figure out why a psychologist wouldn’t want to work with you, or why an electric wheelchair would elicit a different reaction from a regular one. I guess I have a lot to learn. I wish you lived in the US, specifically near us, where you could visit my grandchildren’s schools. They would love you! ❤

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      1. I’m glad that the mistakes on the old logo weren’t that visible 😂 If you look closely you can see that the red triangle with the eye in it slightly overlaps with the orange and purple triangles next to it. The blue triangle also slightly misses the edge of the black circle. Additionally, the handle isn’t completely connected to the wheel – little things like that. Small as they may be, as a digital artist, my eyes kept getting drawn to them. I know, I don’t understand why I keep getting rejected by psychologists either, or why a motorized chair makes people think that I’m more severly disabled because it provides me with slightly more assistance than a manual one. It’s so presumptious and silly. I wish I could speak at your grandchildren’s school too. Maybe one day I’ll be able to travel around a bit more with it so I can give talks to more people in a wider range of locations. Thank you so much for your support! Have a blessed Sunday! ❤🌸❤

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    2. Thank you! It feels really good to finally be back. Yes, it’s only a subtle difference. I think that I may have noticed the mistakes in the logo when I originally made it but I was too lazy to fix it and thought no one would notice 😊 I’m glad that you’re looking forward to my manual vs. electric wheelchair post, it’s not something that I’ve heard people talking about before when it comes to the social aspect, not the practicality one. I hope that I’ll be able to find a psychologist soon too. The whole situation is quite frustrating. Anyway, I’m looking forward to returning to read your amazing book reviews. It’s been too long and I need more Roberta R. in my life! 😂🥰🥰

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    1. Thank you so much! 🥰 I’m glad that you enjoyed hearing my voice – I think that that’s the first time that I’ve shared it here on my blog. It feels really good to be back, I missed posting while I was making the updates. I’m excited for my plans too – I hope that this year will end on a high note for me and that I’ll be able to achieve most of what I’ve planned to.

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  10. Love this post! Titania is such a cool name for the wheelchair – and I’m so glad your educational talks have been going well! Maybe recording them and posting a few snippets onto your blog would be cool! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed this post! It was fun sharing about all of the things that I’ve been up to recently. Titania is a nice name – I think it suits her because she is so big, strong, and steel-y just like a metal titan. That is actually an AMAZING idea! I’ll definitely record some snippets of my presentation next time! Thanks so much for that great idea, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that before 🤷‍♀️😂😊

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    1. Thank you! It feels good to be back 😊 I’m so happy that you’re excited about the progress I made. It took a lot of time and a lot of effort but I thought that it was important to do. I hope that your husband enjoys his new chair too – it’s always a freeing feeling recieving one. It truly means so much that you are proud of me! ❤ I love your blog too and can’t wait to return to reading your insightful posts.

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    1. It means a lot that you’re happy that I’m back! 😊 I’ve missed sharing my life and educating others about disabilities with my posts while I was gone. I’m glad that you learnt a lot from my old ones – and I hope that you’ll be able to learn something new from my new ones too ❤🌸❤

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  11. I can’t believe you are back!!! Waking up today morning and seeing your post in reader made me scream with joy. All through the month, I had been dreading something. I felt I should contact you via e-mail, check out if everything is alright… I never could. We are all virtual friends here on WordPress, we won’t ever know what happened…
    I am so grateful you are back!!!

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    1. It is incredible to know that you missed me so much! It feels surreal to be able to make someone this happy just by posting. You are a true friend and I can’t wait to get back to reading your creative posts now that I’m back too. Thank you so much for thinking of me and welcoming me back now that I’ve returned. I hope that you’ll have an amazing week ahead! ❤😊❤

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    1. Thank you so much for welcoming me back 😊 I missed posting while I was gone. I’m very happy that you’re looking forward to reading my new posts – I hope that you’ll enjoy them and that they’ll be just as interesting and informative as my last ones. Take care and stay happy too. Have a fabulous week! 💚🌻💚

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  12. Wow, cant put it in words how thoughtful and considerate this entire post is, along with the wonderful impacts your making in people’s life!! It has been an absolute pleasure reading this (:

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  13. Wow, You have been busy girl~!!!! I’m so impressed with your efforts in the changes you have done on your blog. So cool and I think people will love to read your old posts. It’s good to know why you go with disabled actually, I truly can’t believe why people would treat you different with an electric wheelchair! That is maddening. It is sooooo cool. 😎 and must be fun to twirl around in get places in. Lord seems so archaic that you had such a time to get it and to get an appt with a therapist. That’s just ludicrous!~ 💖
    I’m happy you are exploring the stage and public speaking Simone. I think it is a natural fit for you and you are so good at it! 💖💖💖👏👏👏👏

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  14. It’s so good to see you and read your lovely thoughts and words after such a long time, Simone. I’m glad that so many good things have been happening and that you’ve been busy with improvements in your blog and talks to increase awareness about disabilities. It’s always good to inspire positive change and also implement it yourself. I think you’ll be zipping along much faster now. Would love to see some dance moves on that mean machine.
    Take care and hope to read more posts from you. 🙂

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  15. Simone, lovely to see you doing the fandango in Titania! 😀 I have an electric bike to get me around my very hilly city and I love it. I’m so glad you can get out again. Although we have all suffered a little under lockdown, I can’t imagine how being without a wheelchair was for you. Great you are back in schools. I imagine that everyone who hears you speak about your experience of life will be forever moved and properly educated. Lucky kids. Well done. It is an example to us all to ‘be the change we want to see in the world’. Go girl! Love and blessings. x

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  16. Very glad to hear your educational talk went really well 🙂 You are doing a wonderful job. Keep up the good work 🙂
    And sorry to hear about your experience with the psychologists. But don’t lose hope. I am sure you will come across an understanding psychologist soon 🙂

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  17. Great post and thank you for caring and educating us! Wishing you lots of joy withTitania. Congratulations on doing so well with public speaking, this is amazing. I cannot agree more, psychological support should be available for everyone, sadly it is not. I hope you find a suitable psychologist and wishing you all the best on your personal journey.

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  18. Simone, you have been incredibly busy! You are an inspiration. How wonderful that you are speaking to children who are no doubt enriched and enlightened by your presence and experiences. I applaud you for seeking to further your skills by taking classes that will give you the confidence to grow in your goals and pursuits. I also applaud you for taking the time to update your blog in the way that you did. I am also pleased to read that you have a new wheelchair and I love the video! Thank you for sharing. It is unfortunate that it took you so long to receive a new one, but it looks like you have put that behind you. Have a wonderful week dear. 💐

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  19. Welcome back, Simone! I’m currently on a little bit of a blogging break myself. School has just become super overwhelming! But I’m happy to hear about the things you were up to during your break. Congrats about your new wheelchair, and I’m glad it’s suiting your lifestyle so far.

    It’s a shame about the ableism in the psychology/mental health community. I hope you find a therapist soon. Please know that us bloggers are always here for mental health support if you need it!

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  20. Well done on making these changes to your blog!!

    Congrats on getting your new wheelchair, I liked the video of you with Titania!
    Ugh for people reacting more negatively to you with the electric wheelchair vs a manual one.

    Aww for not being able to get psychological help still.

    Well done on your second educational talk at a school!

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  21. Welcome back! I was worried about you!
    Congrats on getting the new wheelchair! I don’t understand why it is so difficult for you to get the needed psychological care…that is so wrong!
    Love that you are ministering to kids…our future generations that will have the power to bring about much needed good change! 🙂

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  22. Hi Simone,
    I was delighted to see you back and wanted to read your post fully and comment but have had one or two minor health issues and haven’t got around to it. I look forward now to catching up soon. Well done, I love your blog 🙂❤️

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  23. Welcome back! I, too, was wondering why I wasn’t receiving notifications from you. Now I know. I was reading an article tonight and I thought of you and thought you might like to read it. There is a short video, too. This young lady is very determined, like you, to live her life fully while battling cerebral palsy. Here is the link. https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_breakingnews/video-after-29-years-battling-cerebral-palsy-bride-realizes-dream-of-walking-down-the-aisle_4003849.html?utm_content=Pos_Video:_After_29?utm_medium=email_BN&utm_source=newsnoe&utm_campaign=EET_BreakingNews_10-13-2021-noe-Canada-free-sub&est=dstephen%40skynet.ca
    Praying that you will find just the right psychologist, one who will gladly work with you and be able to help you. God bless you.

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