Karin Willison, who currently lives in the Chicago area, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 6 months old. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University and a master’s degree in psychology from Antioch University. Today, she’s the Disability Editor for The Mighty, a webpage founded by Mike Porath, whose 2-year old daughter has a rare chromosome disorder, Dup15q syndrome.
“I’ve been working for the internet community for most of my life, and when I moved to the Midwest I searched for a job I could do from home,” Willison says. “That’s when I found The Mighty.”
About The Mighty.Com
The Mighty website was developed and designed to give as much peer support as possible to individuals with many types of disabilities and to help them find others who might be facing the same types of challenges they have.
So, what type of information a person with a disability can find at The Mighty? Karin recommends that you register at the website to see stories from people to whom you can relate. You can follow specific types of disabilities or writers who write about certain disabilities. By registering, you’ll receive updates when relevant articles are posted.
“We also have information to help people dealing with depression and anxiety. I’m the disability editor, so I primarily publish stories from people with disabilities, including everything from cerebral palsy to spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and brain injuries. Other editors at The Mighty cover other specific physical, mental and emotional conditions. We also have an editor who edits stories written by parents of children with a wide variety of diseases and disabilities,” Karin adds.
Today, The Mighty has 8,000 contributors and serves 150 million readers who have liked its Facebook page. “Our growth has really been phenomenal,” Karin says. “People find us through social media, read the information available and send that information to other people. Then they sometimes share their stories on our website.”
If you click on Conditions A-Z, you’ll see all the different types of conditions, diseases and problems with which people with disabilities may be dealing.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, go to the bottom of the Conditions A-Z page, and put in the link, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Karin reports, “We also have videos available. Oftentimes we’ll use a popular article on The Mighty, find someone who has that type of condition and get him or her to act in a video. I look over the disability related videos to be published on The Mighty site and make sure they fit with the readers who want that type of information.”
The Mighty Video: Just In Time for Halloween
One of the reasons that The Mighty is so widely read is because people with disabilities aren’t in just one group. The Mighty includes sections on rare diseases, video partners, contributing editors, chronic illnesses, mental health disabilities, cancer, seniors and more.
This vast array of topics offered by the mighty enables individuals with specific types of disabilities to connect with other people with similar injuries or diseases.
Karin Willison Empowers Others Through Her Passion for Travel Blogging
Karin Willison also hosts a travel blog, Free Wheelin’ Travel, about her experiences of traveling all over the United States and parts of Canada. She feels like, rather than limit her, her disability has enriched her experiences and strengthened her character.
“My disability has taught me how to be a stronger person than I may have been without cerebral palsy. I’ve done everything I can not to allow my disability to limit me. I feel I’ve accomplished a lot.”
Since Karin uses a power wheelchair, she understands the problems associated with travel in wheelchairs. On Karin’s website, she not only gives others with disabilities a platform to share the problems they encounter when traveling, but she recommends her favorite accessible destinations, sites and experiences.
Karin often talks about problems and solutions for traveling with a service dog. “I got Aria as a puppy, she’s 4 years old, and I trained her myself. She is a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle. I got Aria from a friend of a friend. Aria’s mom was a therapy dog. I thought that her bloodline would be good to try and produce a service dog.”
Karin had two service dogs from a training program when she was younger. But, this time around, she decided to choose the dog she wanted for her constant companion and do her own training, so the dog met her specific needs.
“I started looking on the internet for information, read a variety of books, and searched for information for about 2 years,” Karin reports. “Once I knew enough to begin training my dog, I used the techniques I had learned to work with Aria.”
At one time, Karin had considered the idea of training service dogs for other people, but her life had become so active she didn’t have time. “My work for The Mighty takes up much of my time, as does my travel blog,” Karin says. “Many people in the community of disabilities may have the idea that due to their wheelchairs and disabilities, they can’t travel.”
“Through my blog, I want to show and tell people that, yes, they can travel, even with a severe disability, and have a great time.”
Karin emphasizes that the recurring problem for people with disabilities when traveling is dealing with businesses and, more specifically, hotels and motels that aren’t complying with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
“For instance, I [once] reserved a room for people with disabilities at a particular hotel, yet when I arrived they had given that room to someone else,” Karin explains. “Or, when I reserve a room, maybe I hardly am able to get into the bathroom. Once in a while I’ll meet people in businesses who don’t understand why I have my service dog. Occasionally I’ll encounter public transportation that’s not accessible, especially in cities on the East Coast.”
For these reasons and more, Karin prefers road trips in her van for travel these days.
What Does the Future Hold for Karin Willison?
“I hope to continue to work for The Mighty, because I totally believe in its mission; I enjoy the work I do there. I also hope to get a larger van that I can camp in and do more traveling. Eventually, I’d like to get a trailer camper to go on longer trips and stay in certain locations for longer periods of time.”
“One of the big advantages that I have working for The Mighty is I can write and edit from wherever I am. Although The Mighty is located in Los Angeles, California, the writers and editors work remotely from various sections of the country. I want to travel more and write more.”
To learn more about Karin Willison and Aria, book her for a speaking event, see disability travel guides and much more, check out her blog!
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