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Interview With Karen Lynn, Disability Rights Advocate, Author and Speaker

Through Overcoming Her Own Disabilities, Lynn Helps Others Overcome Theirs


Karen Lynn, Founder, Whispers of Hope

Karen Lynn, Founder, Whispers of Hope

Karen Lynn
Updated June 09, 2011

About Karen Lynn

Karen Lynn has overcome her own life-long challenges with Cerebral Palsy (C.P.) and dyslexia to become an accomplished public speaker and published author. Since winning a landmark disability rights lawsuit in California in 1979, she continues to advocate tirelessly for people with all forms of disabilities.

Lynn's services include motivational public speaking on hope, encouragement, overcoming challenges, and building self-confidence.

WIB: Tell me about the some of the many wonderful services you offer to help and inspire other people. And, do you have any advice for others who want to succeed in life but face physical or artificial barriers placed by society?

KL: Since 1978 I have been actively involved in reaching out to others in my community, as well as state-wide through legal advocacy, mentorship and empowerment programs. I sat on the Executive board of Protection and Advocacy Inc. from 2002 to 2004 and helped enact new laws furthering a mission statement to treat all people with dignity and respect. I also sat on Harbor Regional Center's board, in Southern California from 1998 to 1999.

For many years I taught people with and without physical limitations low impact aerobics, adaptive aerobics, Pilates, and Yoga.

My advice to succeeding past life's barriers is to never give up on your passion, hopes, or dreams.

WIB: Tell me more about your current work.

KL: Currently I am writing for two online publications Audacity magazine and for Access Long Island. I am also on staff at Enabling Support Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides technological tools to empower individuals with disabilities.

WIB: How long have you been writing?

K: I have a passion for writing and have been writing since the early eighties. In 1983 I entered a contest and won second place in the Kaleidoscope International Prose Fiction Art award when my book The Broken Hoof (compare prices) was still in its infancy. I have been a contributing columnist for Audacity magazine the past year and a half.

WIB: Do you travel much?

KL: I travel to lecture on the topic of inclusion and have delivered speeches to the Los Angeles Unified School District and Long Beach, California Unified School District. And, for the past three years, I have traveled back east to New Jersey to address Kean University staff and student body on topics of discrimination and diversity.

WIB: Discrimination is not just something adults face in the workplace; children also face discrimination at school. For example, many parents of children with disabilities can face significant challenges in getting an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or even a Section 504 Plan under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Do you have any advice for those who are facing down schools on their own?

KL: Parents need to remember one very important and vital truth. That truth is: they themselves and their child know more about what that child needs than any "expert."

WIB: You have C.P. And dyslexia and yet you have a lifelong passion for dancing, physical activity - even pioneering chair aerobics - and are a writer. You are an inspiration to other people with disabilities - but whom or what inspired you to challenge your challenges and take life by the horns?

KL: I was inspired and empowered to take on these challenges because I did not want to be labeled by a system that did not care about my personhood or took the time to think outside the box to give me a hand up, or truly put themselves in my shoes to understand me, where I was coming from, and what I was going through. And, I did not want to be victimized or told what I could or couldn't do with my life and my dreams.

I did not want some so called "expert" giving directives and having complete authoritative control over something that was not theirs for the taking. I was a human being and thus, had a right to a choice.

I was going to dance to my drummer, and created my own reality. I was going to cast my mold with the passion that burned deep down inside of me. I was not going to let any thermometer wielding expert pat me on the head, put me in a workshop, and tell me I could not teach dance because I had C.P. or, that I had scattered thoughts because I had interest in other subjects, and had a thirst to learn.

You can contact Karen Lynn through her website, WhispersofHope.com or via email at karenlynn@whispersofhope.org.

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