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Memorable Presentations

Tyler’s Presentations

Tyler was asked to provide keynote presentations at dozens of local, regional, and national conferences across the country. Audiences from 100 to 1,800 were inspired by Tyler’s message of Ability Awareness. “Ability Awareness is simply the skill of recognizing that what someone CAN do is much more important than what they can’t do.” Those audiences included the Joint Commission of the Navy-Air Force in Dallas, Kids Included Together (KIT) in San Diego, the National Synod of the UCC in Hartford, the Dept of Defense and FDA in Chicago and so many others.

Audiences thoroughly enjoyed Tyler’s humor and easy way of delivering important life lessons about Inclusion and Ability Awareness. The young man speaking to them quickly morphed from a “poor, tragic soul in a wheelchair” to a fun, yet very credible, advocate for folks with disabilities. They laughed and learned with Tyler and soon didn’t notice the wheelchair, just the wonderful smile.

Memorable Presentations

Kids Included Together (KIT)

Kids Included Together, or KIT, as it is usually referenced, started as a local endeavor in San Diego. It’s mission was to provide an inclusive opportunity for kids with and without disabilities to experience life together. KIT’s success resulted in more and more demand for its methods across the country and around the world. Tens of thousands of people are trained every year in the practices and methodologies of KIT’s programming. In the words from KIT’s website:

KITs primary focus is on programs for children and the people working in them, KIT also cares deeply for the children, with and without disabilities, in those programs and their successful transition into adulthood.

Embedded across all policies is the core principle that Kids Included Together supports diversity, equity, and inclusion within the field of children’s education and programs. KIT also supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and its ratification by the United States, as an instrument to support the human rights of individuals with disabilities and as a method to help society view disability as a natural part of life.

The Family YMCA of Black Hawk County adopted the principles of KIT by sending YMCA representatives to San Diego for training years ago. The YMCA started the Together We Play program which promoted kids with disabilities participating in youth activities of all kinds. The Together We Play program was then picked up by the Inclusion Connection where Tyler was its coordinator. (see Inclusion Connection in the Community section)

Tyler was ecstatic about doing the keynote presentation at the annual KIT Conference. He was to become an avid supporter of KIT and its principles. Torrie, KIT’s CEO, is a nationally recognized leader in the promotion of inclusion and Tyler was her #1 fan. She has grown in her inclusion stature in the United States including a TedX talk “Isn’t it a Pity, the Real Problem with Special Needs”.

But the keynote presentation for KIT in San Diego was more than a great opportunity to spread his message (and enjoy being a tourist in San Diego) for Tyler. It was, although unknown at the time, a stepping stone to many future keynote presentations for large crowds of caring folks.

Immediately after the KIT presentation, Commander Larrie of the US Navy who attended the conference asked him if he would provide the keynote at the next Navy/Air Force Joint Command conference in Dallas. And someone who attended that conference in Dallas asked if he would provide the keynote for the

US Dept of Defense conference in Chicago … and so on, and so on …

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US Congress Reception

Tyler was speaking at the DC Assistive Technology Program in Washington DC. While we were in the area, we visited Representative Bruce Braley from our hometown in Iowa.  He was a gracious host and interested in Tyler’s mission, which prompted his question, “How can I help?” Tyler was taken aback. He was flattered and appreciative that Rep. Braley had taken time with him and was not expecting him to make such an offer. Rep. Braley answered his own question with another question, “How would you like to speak to Congress?” And so the possibility was given life …

They both turned 18 in 2008. Rep. Braley arranged a Congressional reception to honor Tyler and the 18th birthday of the ADA with Easter Seals being the official host of the event. Every member of Congress received a personal invitation. Rep. Braley and Senator Tom Harkin, also of Iowa, served as co-emcees for the event. Sen Harkin was a co-writer and sponsor of the ADA and obviously proud to be a part of the celebration, both for the ADA and for a success story in the way of Tyler.

 

The large meeting area was standing room only. The press was very present. Both Rep. Braley and Sen. Harkin shared words with the audience. Tyler’s video, “I’m Tyler … don’t be surprised” was shown and Tyler was given the chance to speak. He was asked many questions from the floor which he fielded like a pro, adding his touch of Tyler humor to the delight of the crowd. The reception was a great success, thanks to the efforts of a politician who truly cared about his constituents back home. Thank you, Rep. Braley. And thanks to another politician who truly cared about the uneven playing field of folks with disabilities who just wanted to be a useful part of society. Thank you, Sen. Harkin. And to an organization which spends every day trying to make life more for folks with disabilities. Thank you, Easter Seals.

Tyler would get constructively nervous before any presentation, but this was the only one where he was visibly nervous. And he knocked it out of the park, anyway.

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