Brooke Smith, born with cerebral palsy, is a pageant queen with a passion for creative writing. Brooke recently sat down with us at AbleThrive and shared her story. Read below as she talks about why she loves creative writing and more.
Tell me a little bit about your background (Your story):
I am twenty-six years old and I am from Denham Springs, Louisiana. I was born with a neurological disorder called Cerebral Palsy. It affected my ability to talk and walk properly. I have been wheelchair bound since I was three years old. The wheelchair that I have now is a hot pink Permobil F5 VS Standing Power Chair. It lets me go from sitting to standing. I name all my wheelchairs. This one is called Stella.
I communicate with a speaking program called Proloquo2Go. Proloquo2Go is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication app for iOS. I can select words or symbols, alone or in combination, to be spoken aloud in a computer-generated female voice (text-to-speech). The program has over 10,000 symbols and an advance word prediction. For example, I can easily introduce myself by pressing one tab (symbol) that has the phrase "Hello. My name is Brooke Smith." If I need to speak freely, there is also the option to type out responses.
My early childhood years involved many doctor's appointments, tests, and procedures. My extra-curricular schedule consisted of constant physical, occupational, and speech therapy appointments. Instead of dance or sports, I trained for hours on how to communicate through communication devices. I learned how to eat independently and do schoolwork to accommodate my high muscle tone and spasticity. I loved school and spent most of my free time on schoolwork. School wasn't always easy for me though. I had to work a little harder to keep up physically with my work, but I always persevered and came through. I never made bad grades, and I never did badly on standardized tests. I did and still do struggle with math, but so do many others with and without disabilities. It was just always my weakest link in school; yet, I always got through it. I ended up with a 3.3 GPA in high school. I went on and I studied creative writing at Southeastern Louisiana University. My college GPA was 3.2.
Besides school, I have spent most of my time completing in pageants and meeting other inspiring women. I held the title of Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana 2015 and placed in four in Ms. Wheelchair USA. I was also the 2017 Very Miss Special Miss Louisiana Ambassador
What age did you get into writing? Why did you choose this path?
I was about thirteen or fourteen when I learned writing could be my passion. My 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Taylor, encouraged me to submit one of my poems to the With Honors American Literacy of Poetry Publication. My poem ended up being published. Seeing my own thoughts in a printed copy was more exciting. I haven’t stopped writing since then.
What’s your favorite genre to write?
I enjoy writing drama-filled mysteries or comedies when I create something fiction. I write short stories for this mobile app called Texties. It’s short stories in text message form. I have my own personal blog called Creative Works by Brooke Smith. (http://creativeworksbybrookesettoonsmith.blogspot.com/?m=1) It features all my recent fiction stories and poems.
I also write about what it's like to live with a disability when I do a nonfiction piece. I love giving advice. I love sharing tips on how to handle traveling in a wheelchair or how to handle dating as a wheelchair-bound individual. My nonfiction pieces can be found on websites such as Coffee House Writers, The Mighty, and Unwritten.
What’s one take away you wish for your readers to have after reading your stories?
Life is full of surprises and plot twists. Yet, the best stories have the most interesting plots. Their limitations should not prevent them from living. Their limitations should only be their motivations. I’m unable to speak well, but I have never given up on being understood.
What advice do you have for other people with disabilities who want to pursue writing?
Write about what you know and love. The rest will follow. Also, take your time. I can only type with one finger. I set goals for myself like 500 to 700 words a day.
What are some of your future goals?
I am thinking about doing a graphic novel or a young adult novel series in the future. One thing I know for the sure is that the series will have a disabled heroine. I want to continue to be a role model to young disabled girls as well by sharing my story.
What does it mean to live life to the fullest?
Living life to the fullest means taking risks and learning how to overcome great obstacles.
Do you want to share your story with AbleThrive.com? Contact us!