The Mande Milkshakers are a group of very diverse women of different sizes, shapes, personalities, and abilities. We call these differences our special flavor of Shakes. My special flavor includes a disability; I am deaf. I was born deaf, and learning to speak hasn’t been easy for me. Think about it; when you can’t hear, how do you learn to speak? Or even hear the music, people talking, etc.
Yep, I’m deaf and proud of it!!
As a founding member of the Mande Milkshakers, I love dancing, music and get togethers. I’m sure you’re wondering how can a deaf person dance and hear the music? I have hearing aids and recently got cochlear implants, which helps with the hearing. Although, at times, when it’s really noisy and my brain is on override… I rely on my Mandes! They are all about empowering, helping, supporting each other. At times, when it’s parade season and it’s raining… I have to take my aids off and really pay attention, which can be a handful. But it doesn’t stop me…at all!! The Mandes help me out and focus on me to be with them! During those moments, it can be very easy to think, “I can’t”…”I can’t have normal social life like anyone else.” However, I have learned over time one important thing: I have a choice. I might not be able to choose what is easy or difficult for me; but, I can choose the abilities that I do have by embracing the choices that work for me. I have experienced many rewarding things as a result. Let’s resist the temptations to classify other people based on disabilities or challenges. Let’s help others to focus on their abilities, even if it’s difficult at times. The rewards can be something as wonderful as being a Mande and having so many supportive Mande sisters.