Facing the challenge: Meet Corey Mineo | PostIndependent.com

Facing the challenge: Meet Corey Mineo

Special to the Post Independent
Valley Life for All

The Post Independent, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, continues a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who have different disabilities. Twenty-seven percent of Americans experience some disability. One hundred percent are a part of our community. Each has a story.

Corey Mineo trains and coordinates Junior Volunteers for Valley View Hospital, holds a degree in psychology and loves pushing the limits of his abilities. His voice will change you.

Here's Corey's story:

At age 2, I was diagnosed with a degenerative muscular disease. I have been in a wheelchair since second grade. I have limited use of my arms and hands. Yet, in my mind, I don't see myself as I look. When I'm talking to someone, or in my dreams, I don't see myself in my chair. I would describe myself as having the mindset of an athlete — confident, stubborn and a bit cocky.

There was a time when I was self-conscious about my physical presence, but no more. If people seem uncomfortable with that, I can pick up on that and I approach them. I admit that I might push their comfort level purposely. It might be kind of a jerk thing to do, but I find that opens up the gate to communicating. Those with disabilities have a responsibility to do our part in opening up conversation and not just waiting for someone else to be the first to say hello.

I do want to use my voice to speak for those who cognitively or physically can't speak for themselves. What I want people to know is that I just want to be seen and treated as any other person. We all have our strengths and quirks.

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I can easily identify all the positives I got out of the negative. I am a realist. I know that the muscle degeneration that I experience puts limitations on my physical self, but it does not limit who I am.

I like to be a part of the community. I like to walk around town and stop in at the coffee shop and read the newspaper. There are physical barriers that keep me from being able to fully participate as others might. I was called to jury duty some years back. I am capable of serving on a jury, but I couldn't because I couldn't get into the building. Not that I'm complaining about getting out of jury duty. There are many buildings that are inaccessible to me even if they have no stairs. Without an auto-door opener, I can't open the door. That door opener that most people don't notice is to me, and many others, the difference between being included and independent, or not. If we looked at these "little things," we would solve big problems.

I recently graduated from the Roaring Fork Community Leadership Center with the class of 2018. I think that leadership is really about letting people organically grow and guiding them. To lead is to teach.

I hope adding my voice to the conversation helps educate and teach, and that it lets people grow in a new understanding of inclusion for all.

Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. We want to hear your voice. Request a training or join the conversation at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or #voicability4all. Help us redefine the perception of challenge.