by Shirley Lorraine
At a recent lunch meeting of the San Buenaventura Women’s Club, members learned from an expert how to focus on capabilities, not disabilities.
Speaker Carol Leish, Disability Advocate for the Area Agency on Aging and Founder and CEO of Call Me Capable, recounted her travels through a life faced with myriad challenges.
As a small child, Leish was involved in an automobile accident which resulted in vision, speech, and physical limitations. Her mother passed away during Leish’s teen years, creating severe depression to add to her burden. Despite these obstacles, Leish focused on staying positive, both emotionally and physically, and encouraging others to see their own capabilities rather than their disabilities.
Undaunted by her minor physical limitations, Carol exercised her brain to achieve a master’s degree in Education and Counseling. She went on to teach in San Bernardino city schools and has been heavily involved in many nonprofit and networking organizations. In addition, she is a frequent contributing writer to the Ventura Breeze on a variety of subjects.
In 2002, Leish created and co-developed the Call Me Capable Game™, a board game released internationally, designed to enlighten people of all ages to become more sensitive to those with differing needs. For example, a student using a wheelchair may ask for assistance. How can you help? Or what responses may be appropriate when being introduced to a person with limited sight or hearing? The questions raised in the game assist players in learning how to respond when faced with sensitive or uncomfortable situations.
Club Members heard how Leish frequently uses humor to ease potential awkwardness. She revealed her own challenges and how maintaining a cheerful outlook helps her get through life’s rough patches. The rapt audience clearly was touched by her honesty, humor, and stories.
She has been featured speaker for National Disability Employment Awareness Month Training as well as keynote speaker for the 11th Annual Illinois Statewide Training Conference in Chicago, Illinois. She has presented at numerous venues in the Tri-Counties and is available to speak upon request.
Leish is a strong advocate for facing life’s challenges with a smile. She encourages all to recognize and share our similarities rather than our differences. To emphasize her resolve, she quotes Helen Keller: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” She is proof positive of this.