Persevere and Push the Limit - Penn-Mar

Persevere and Push the Limit

Posted on October 11, 2022

By Whitney Bailey, Director of Operations Diversability | Spastic Chatter Podcast Host

Whitney smilingMy personal mantra is, “Perseverance: The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

That attitude has served me well as I was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and for the first 18 years of my life had to rely on caretakers for all of my needs.

Fortunately, I was raised in a family where I was encouraged to keep up with my three siblings, including my twin sister, and was always included in whatever was going on in their lives.

At 18, through a lot of therapy, hard work and perseverance, I was able to develop independent living skills with the help of a Baclofen pump inserted in my stomach that relaxed my spasms and body movements.

I was the first Bailey kid in my family to go off to college. I earned a BS Degree in Rehabilitation Services from Steven F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas and my Masters in Special Education from Texas A&M in Corpus Christi. I am grateful to my professors who tailored my curriculum to align with what I wanted to do in a disabilities studies program.

I’m one of those people who always seems to push the limit. I insisted on living alone at college (as far away from home as I could). Ironically, I ended up moving back to my own home in Thorndale, Texas, just 10 minutes away from my parents!

After getting my Masters, I started a position at an independent living center but the stress of going to work and spending multiple hours a day riding the bus took a toll on my body. That led me to volunteering for a remote company related to disabilities that later turned into paid employment. When I left there after three years, I was basically running the company while my boss was out on maternity leave.

I was then hired by Diverseability, my current employer, and advanced within a year from an entry-level job as a Content Associate, to Project Manager and then to Director of Operations. Diversability is a community-based organization all about elevating disability pride.

To backtrack a bit, I was bored during the COVID quarantine in 2020, so I started a podcast called “Spastic Chatter” featuring stories from folks in the CP community.

If you Google “Cerebral Palsy,” it comes up as a childhood disability. I wanted my podcast to be a resource for adults. I put a twist to it by promoting the talks as

“uncensored.” We discuss topics that society often shies away from like disability and relationships, employment issues and how we can defy misconceptions.

Another benefit of the podcast is that parents can see their “children” as adults who are capable of doing awesome things. It gives them resources and experiences that can help them care for their own loved ones.

Spastic Chatter was named a “Top 10 CP Blog” in 2021 by blogcountdown, and the Number One CP Blog by social feed reader, Feedspot.

Penn-Mar was actually one of the first human resources organizations to offer me an interview guest. Interviewing people with CP has helped me realize that our community is very diverse and on a spectrum. No two of us are alike.

I hope my story offers hope and inspiration to all those in the Penn-Mar family. Every obstacle I have encountered has been a learning experience toward a future dream: to launch my own non-profit that will help people with disabilities to tell their stories of perseverance and be a valuable resource for many diverse communities.

Access “Spastic Chatter” on YouTube and all major podcast platforms.

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