Joan Bova Wows Disability Awareness Workshop
STC Chapter Members Stretch Horizons With an
Acclaimed and Unforgettable Mentor
Ever walk to the outer edge of your personal comfort
zone? Ever been engaged at a
fundamental human level? Ever had a
professional growth experience you are not likely to forget?
STC Orlando Chapter members who attended the March 2001 chapter meeting
at the Winter Park
Civic Center (6:30 social, 7:00 program) were the beneficiaries of an
enlightening and inspiring workshop.
Our chapter had the good fortune to book the dynamic,
irrepressible, and utterly unforgettable Joan Bovaa nationally recognized
disabilities advocate and co-owner and director of Action Disability Advocates,
Inc., based in Apopka and Ormond Beachto conduct a workshop on disability
awareness in the workplace.
From the moment we saw Joan, who has overcome a severe and
visible mobility restriction to pursue a highly successful career and a
visionary mission, we knew this was not going to be another one of those
snore-your-way-through, check-the-box professional development sessions.
We were right.
Somehow, in the 90 minutes allotted her, Joan not only
coached us as professionals on how best to interact with colleagues in the
workplace who have disabilities (including valuable, practical, specific
suggestions based on her own personal experience), she also engaged us on a
more fundamental level as human beings.
I wont tell you exactly how she did that, because I dont
want to steal her thunder if you ever get the opportunity to participate in one
of her workshopsan opportunity which I urge you to take if it comes up.
Let me simply provide this testimonial: when I first laid
eyes on Joan, I am ashamed to admit I immediately experienced that familiar old
pit in the stomach, the uncomfortable feeling one gets when in the close presence
of somebody who has a severe and noticeable disability.
Ninety minutes later I was among several lingerers chatting
animatedly after the workshop exchanging war stories with a fellow
professionalone who happened to be in a wheelchair and who looked a little
different from the rest of us. That didnt matter any more. Gone was the
pit in my stomach. In its place was a
feeling of empowerment, of liberation from four decades of discomfort and
emotional baggage which I suspect many of us carry when it comes to relating
to people with disabilities.
Joan would probably still be talking to us if the custodian
hadnt come by to put the lights out.
She finally took the hint, motored her way in her wheelchair to her
custom vanwhich includes low-level buttons near the tail light to activate the
automated wheelchair liftand, before taking off, gave me a quick demo on the
Cool lady. Great evening. One we wont soon forget.