May 20, 2003
Heather Mills McCartney to headline state's first disabilities conference
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Heather Mills McCartney, internationally acclaimed speaker and former Nobel Prize nominee, presented the keynote address at a statewide disabilities conference in Jackson at the Mississippi Trade Mart at the state fairgrounds.
The one-day conference, dubbed “A Celebration of Achievement,” highlighted the successes of those living with disabilities and provided educational opportunities for health care, rehabilitation and mental health professionals, as well as disabled persons, their employers and advocates.
“A Celebration of Achievement” was presented by the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Mississippi Society for Disabilities CAP Program in partnership with the Methodist Rehabilitation Center. The first-of-its-kind conference included a symposium on assistive technology and workshops on cultural diversity, disability etiquette, accommodations in the workplace and HIPAA regulations.
“This is the largest public forum ever held in Mississippi promoting the accomplishments of our citizens with disabilities,” said H.S. McMillan, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services. “With an internationally acclaimed speaker like Heather Mills McCartney, we attracted a diverse crowd.”
McCartney—humanitarian, author, and wife of Sir Paul McCartney—lost her leg in an accident 10 years ago. She faced tremendous adversity even before becoming disabled, including abandonment and homelessness during her childhood and youth. As an adult, she continually overcame obstacles, including living as an amputee, to launch a successful modeling career and most notably, humanitarian efforts that led to a Nobel Prize nomination in 1996.
McCartney is also the author of “A Single Step,” an inspiring story of courage and the will to succeed. She speaks frequently to audiences around the world, sharing motivational insights and celebrating quality of life for those living with disabilities.
With the theme, “2003–The Year of Possibilities,” the conference featured Jennifer Jernigan, Miss University 2003, performing the national anthem. Jernigan was born without the majority of her right hand, and she promotes her pageant platform, Overcoming Disabilities and Differences Through Self-Esteem, to people across the state. A college sophomore, she has worked with disabled children since she was 10 years old.
Other highlights included an exhibition for health care and employment professionals, a FashionABILITY show with fashion demonstrations by disabled artists and appearances by the Sweet Potato Queens and Miss Mississippi.
“We hope that this forum’s dynamic speakers and entertainment helped to break down the barriers of misconception that cause additional obstacles for people with disabilities,” added McMillan.
For more information:
Celebration of Achievement Official Web Site
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