Ms. Wheelchair America 2014 Jennifer Adams spoke to occupational therapy students about the “Inclusion Revolution” on Tuesday. The event was sponsored by the Belmont Student Occupational Therapy Association.
Adams is a successful 33-year-old businesswoman from Tacoma, Wash. She was born with partial limbs and has used a wheelchair her whole life. She grew up in a family of eight children after being adopted along with five of her siblings, all who had either Down syndrome or cerebral palsy.
“I believe that really set me up to grow up into the world with a view of diversity and to accept people from the inside first,” Adams said. “I attribute a lot to my parents.” Her adopted mother, Jeanne, is a family doctor in Chehalis, Wash.
The teasing she experienced in her youth led Adams to seek out ways to tell her story. For 17 years, she has been motivating others with her positive message. “We all have limitations,” said Adams in a recent interview with her hometown newspaper, The News Tribune, “but if you press beyond your limitations, that’s where fulfillment and life’s purpose lies.”
A radiant, high energy spokeswoman, Adams has experienced barriers to her passion in the mainstream art world due to her disability, but her goal is to encourage people to take their gifts and talents out into the world to break down barriers of discrimination. “When people with disabilities show the world our talents,” she says, “disabilities dissolve and abilities shine forth.”
Students in BSOTA are doctoral level students at Belmont in the School of Occupational Therapy, part of the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing.