Meet this week's amazing disability advocate: Melanie Waldman!
Q: What is something people generally don’t know about you? M: My yoga practice has it's roots in my early "career" as both a young gymnast and dancer.
Q: Who is Melanie? M: It's hard to find a few words to define me, as I always love to try new things, in life. However, currently I am: a yoga teacher, award winning short filmmaker, professional actor, and summer camp counselor.
Q: What gets your fired up about the disability movement? M: The ability to make just about every experience an inclusive one. Regardless of anyone's ability, there should never be an excuse as to why someone should not be able to participate in any activity.
Q: What is your advocacy platform? M: Making yoga an accessible experience, for all. Ensuring that the stories and voices of people with all abilities (and/or disabilities) are heard!
Q: What barriers or challenges do you face in this movement? (or in life) M: Not all 200 hour Registered yoga teachers are trained in knowing how to make their classes accessible to all body types and/or mental or physical ability. As most yoga teachers are required to have at least this amount of training to teach, it is imperative that studios seek out ways to make their staff more spatially aware that while their studios may/ may not be ADA compliant, there is nothing as far as the ADA and Yoga Alliance are concerned within making the practice of yoga, itself an inclusive one.
Q: What do you want those who do not identify with disability to know? M: It may not seem important to you because you may not know anyone with a disability, now. That 20 % of our population live with some type of disability. While we are one of the largest minority groups, we are the only group that any person can become a part of at any time, regardless of age, sex (sexual identity) or race. I became a member of the disability community 6 years ago, and the biggest takeaway I've received is that this is maybe the most loving and generous community that I have ever become a part of. I feel safe, cared for and that my story is an important one to share. So as unseen as you may feel, know that there is possibility within sharing our stories, in order to find a deeper connection to one another.
Q: What areas are you still growing/hope to grow? Personally? Professionally? M: I think that I will always want to continue to grow, as an advocate. Whether that's continuing my own learning as a yoga teacher, or sharing the thing's I've learned about inclusive yoga practices, with others-- the more possibility there is for all of us to learn from each others perspectives.
Q: When people look at you/up to you, what do you hope they see? M: Someone who feels unstoppable. That despite the way that I look, that there's hardly anything that can hold me down.
How do we follow you?! I have a blog that I like to post to, about my experience as an amputee. whereswaldman.wordpress.com
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