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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Willard Wigans: A Man Who Exemplifies How to Become More Than a Label

Willard Wigans
I am intrigued by an artist who I have recently been introduced to because of his ability to create microscopic art that is so small that it can fit into the eye of an needle.  Some of you may know of this artist who comes from Birmingham, England. His name is Willard Wigans and his artistic ability is celebrated by royalty and members of the scientific and artistic community.  Taking to heart the teachings of his mother, he "...always respects the little things" by creating micro-scultptures of various objects.

Although his art is genius, it is his ability to overcome learning disabilities to utilize his gifts and talents to impact the world that is truly inspiring.  He exemplifies my belief that an individual who is willing to invest in themselves by developing their abilities can overcome any statistical probability or label placed on them. In a 2009 TED presentation Willard Wigan discusses how he used his art as a means of self-expression and retreat from a world that  "clustered him as nothing". He states that, "Nothing doesn't exist because there is always something."  His artwork exemplifies this philosophy as he creates specimens of art that is so minute that it takes a microscope to be able to see it. His art solidifies that he has the ability to not just produce "something" but to produce brilliant pieces of work.
     Many individuals utilize learning disabilities as a means of defining who they are and their level of productivity. It is inspiring and motivating to hear of the story of Willard Wigan and to see his work. I hope that others will appreciate his artistry and view him as only an example of the many other individuals who excel in their gifts despite the label of having a learning disability.  It is time to empower people to move forward in accomplishing their dreams and overcome whatever may be hindering them to get to the next level in their life.

For more information on Willard Wigan and to view his work, visit www.willard-wigan.com.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Texas Psychological Association Legislative Day


Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to the State Capitol Building in Austin, Texas to volunteer for the Texas Psychological Association (TPA) Legislative Day. The TPA provided volunteers the opportunity to come out to support their efforts to promote their advocacy efforts.  Volunteers visited the offices of Senators and Representatives from their region to inform them of their support of specific House Bills as well as their opposition to other bills as they relate to the practice of psychology. I had the opportunity to visit the offices of Senator Fraser, Senator Van de Putte and Representative Menendez. Our efforts allowed for legislative officials to gain insight into the issues relative to the profession and have a point of contact should they have any questions or concerns relative to the bills that were discussed.

The experience was very informative on several levels because it allowed for me to learn about the specific issues that are relevant to the profession, to the treatment of various populations, and the advocacy opportunities that are available for those who are interested.  The TPA outlines their specific legislative references and information on their website so I will not go through them here. I will say that it is important that psychologists and individuals in the community know how this organization can be beneficial to professionals and members of the community. They provide a fact sheet that informs everyone of their involvement in the provision of mental health education and assistance.  The association also provides information on education, training, and licensure requirements for those in the mental health community.  Students and professionals benefit from this information as they seek to learn what they should do to be competent and compliant with the requirements of the state of Texas.  The information that is provided by the TPA on the issue of "Behavioral Analysts" is particularly interesting as it raises the issue of "splintering the practice of psychology into multiple specialty licenses".   The Texas Board of Behavioral Analysts have their own legislative efforts in promoting their agenda as well. Members of the profession and the general community should be informed of the information that is provided by these organizations in order to make informed decisions.

The opportunity to volunteer to promote the legislative efforts of the profession solidified my personal desire to participate in more advocacy efforts on the legislative level and to promote advocacy efforts among my peers.  I had the opportunity to sit and watch as various constituents from all walks of life walked the halls of the Texas Capitol building. Each individual or group having their agenda and utilizing their time and efforts to make a difference for their community.  I was impressed and delighted to see so many youth who were present to learn about the legislative process. I was approached by three youth from TeenPact who were participating in what seemed to be some sort of scavenger hunt around the Capitol building. They asked me several questions to learn about my stance on religious expression in politics, breaking the law to protest issues, and my own personal advocacy efforts. I couldn't help but think about my own children and looking forward to the day when they can participate in activities that promotes their own academic and professional development.  These youth were participating in activities that are geared to help them to be future politicians or participate in advocacy efforts that will essentially change the face of our political future. I want my children to be in on that change to make sure that the interests of various communities that we are a part of are represented as well.  

Throughout the day, I considered the ease and the importance of promoting an issue in the state legislature.  Many individuals and communities do not advocate for their rights or their needs on a local, state, or federal level because they may find the process to be intimidating.  My participation in this process taught me that joining or creating organizations with like-minded people does not have to be intimidating and there is a lot that can be accomplished. It is true that the process can be long and however the efforts are not wasted when the fruits of those labors are implemented and real change has occurred.

Overall, I look forward to participating in more events hosted by the Texas Psychological Association and visiting the Capitol Building in Austin again.

If you would like more information about the issues as outlined above, please feel free to contact me at Donetta.Quinones@research4usolutions.com