John Bahr - My PASS Speech
My caseworker, Kelly from Easterseals Nebraska, asked me some months ago if I would like to speak in front of new trainees from different agencies helping people with disabilities wanting to work. This came about because of a program that I am signed up for called the PASS program. The PASS stands for Plan for Achieving Self Support. The premise of the PASS is to try and get disabled people resources so that they are not relying on government assistance so much. This is what purchased my van and my computer. So, I figured the least I could do after what I received was to tell my story of how the PASS helped me and affected my life.
Everything was happening so fast that I really didn't have time to be nervous as she led me to the front of the group. She said, "I want to introduce John Bahr as our guest speaker," which really threw me off, because my introduction was the first line of my speech. So, I started with my second line that was about my accident and when it happened. From there, I quickly abandoned my notes; talking a little bit about my accident and the profound affect it had on me.
From there, I moved on to my life before school, thinking that I was going to be a professional on-line poker player, but then I realized that wasn't very realistic. I told them of my life of playing computer games and how I was missing something in my life.
Next, I explained about my new house, and the various programs that made it happen. I thanked my friend, Kelly, who built the house and donated his labor. All of this time scanning the crowd trying my best to make eye contact with everyone. I was getting positive feedback from the people nodding their heads as if they understood. That's when I knew I was in touch with everyone, and had his or her attention. As I watched them, I grew more confident in my own speaking ability.
Finally, I delved into how I came about going to school, giving my friend Brooke, credit for getting me started. Also, the various programs that made schooling possible and the impact it had on my life. The recommendation from my Vocational Rehabilitation caseworkers, Tracy and Nicole, who referred me to Kelly, from Easterseals, that got me started on the PASS Plan. I couldn't thank these three gals enough through my presentation. They went above and beyond their call of duty. With this I explained how much, with the PASS money, it changed my life with a new computer and a new van. Emphasizing the new van and the condition my old green Chevy was in when I got rid of it. I tried not to come off as some spoiled kid, but rather someone who used the programs that they were in charge of to better my life.
Ultimately, I explained the situation between Brooke and me who are both living with paralysis. The biggest thing I tried to get across was how important these programs are for those who are living with disabilities; how they changed our lives for the better and how much we appreciated the people that made it happen. I think my heartfelt conviction resonated within the crowd in the room. At least I hope so, that was my purpose for going there in the first place.
Once, I was done with my speech, I answered a few question about the SSI and SSDI, my disability income from the government. Overall, it was a very good experience that I can build from and told them I would be happy to speak anytime.