Inspiring Others With A Variety of Abilities
This month I decided to do things a little different. I did an interview with Katherine Magnoli. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at Family Cafe. For those that do not know what Family Cafe is- it is an annual event held in Orlando and is the nation largest cross disability event. Katherine was there selling her books The Adventures of Kat Girl and was admired by all of her accomplishments. She is an author, speaker, has a radio show, and the list goes on. I decided to interview her.
What is your Background?
First off Cheryl thank you so much for doing this blog interview with me it really means a lot. I truly admire your work helping people with disabilities be more athletic and centered spiritually through yoga that is wonderful. As for me I am 34 years old about to be 35 next month. I am originally from NY where i grew up with 5 sisters and 1 brother. Both my parents were brought up in Brasil and as were my siblings, I am the only American Born baby in my family. I grew up with a very eclectically talented family. I mean all of us were either singers, dancers, painters, etc. I grew up trying all of these things and never really found I was good at any of them. Until later in life but that’s for later in the interview.
How did you decide to be an author?
Well Cheryl, that’s actually a funny story; I remember when I was about 4 years old I was given one of those work books where you trace the letters because I had horrible penmanship and it was very needed for me. Anyway, I became totally hooked to it and would spend hours laying on my living room floor just tracing every letter over and over again. Then if that wasn’t enough I slowly started to become mesmerized by father’s type writer. I would watch him for hours writing all his stories, jingles, musicals and whatever other genius idea he could come up with.
Then one day I asked if I could try it out, he agreed and I sat there and wrote my very first story at the age of 6. The story was about a girl who had a pet duck that ran away from home to find his family at a pond. He then spent the day playing in the pond but at sundown he missed the girl so much he waddled his way back home, rang the door bell with his wing and the two lived happily ever after. Definitely not Shakespeare but hey I was 5 so it was pretty genius if you ask me.After that I always kept journals and would get super into any writing project we had for school.
Finally nearly 20 years later I began helping out at a school for kids with Autism and other Learning Disabilities. Which in reality helped me in such a bigger way than I did for them because it helped me accept my own disability. I just remember growing very attached to them and whenever they would get bullied it was almost as if I was being bullied all over again.
Long story short one day after that first year was over I was sitting at my pool when a little boy told me he felt sorry for me. I immediately thought to myself I don’t want want anyone to feel sorry for me so I came up with an idea to not only help kids understand disability but to entertain them as well. This is is how KatGirl was born and the response I have gotten over the last 10 years is something I never imagined. I mean I have shared my stories with thousands of children; some even in other states and I truly feel blessed that I get to live out the dream of my 5 year old self who used to spend hours tracing those letters and then writing on her Daddy’s type writer.
What is your next project?
My next project is very near and dear to my heart; it is called Pete the Private eye and I have been working towards ever since the final story of KatGirl was published back in 2013. I don’t want to give too much of it a way but what I will say is that it is a collection of mystery stories that is solved by a boy with a disability.
As for other projects I am teaming up with a good friend of mine named Shannon LaRue on a project we call TeamSexy which is to empower women with disabilities. I am excited about this because it is very different from what I have done in the past. There will be a clothing line and events so stay tuned for all of that.
In addition I will continue to do what I am doing which is promoting inclusion through KatGirl and soon Pete. I will be reading my books to kids and doing public speeches. Oh and both series of books will be sold on my brand new website; www.KatsAmazingStories.godaddysites.com
Other than writing and doing a radio show I am a public speaker and I am currently working with the Mayor of Bal Harbour on a project that will help bring more beach accessibility to South Florida. I also created a presentation for schools called the Abilities Program that helps educate children with and without disabilities on historical figures and celebrities who were able to accomplish great things while living with a disability. My hope is that this will help shift the perception people without a disability have on those of us who do and inspire those with disabilities to accomplish great things.
Lastly, I will continue to do my radio show Behind the Chair to help promote all the wonderful advocates; like yourself who are helping to strengthen the disability community as a whole.
What are you up to now?
I was recently hired as a tutor by a tutoring company called Big Bang Tutors and currently I am not working but once school starts up and again I am hoping to get more clients. Also I took part in a focus group about improvements needed for health care regarding patients with disabilities. This was held at the Mailman Center for Child Development at University of Miami by none other than the incomparable Shelly Baer, whom also helped strengthen my advocacy; with several of her fellowships she organizes, such as the SALT Project and Emerging Transformational Leadership Program. Also she is the co-creator of the Bold Beauty Project which I had the privilege of being a model for back in 2016. All of this brought me to want to be Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2017 which gave me so many opportunities to do some really strong advocacy. Now last but certainly not least I am able to give back to the National Organization of Ms. Wheelchair America by being selected as a, a mentor for Ms. Wheelchair South Carolina 2019 in order to help her stay on the right track to the national competition and beyond. This other than writing and the radio is my favorite part because I love supporting other advocates and helping strengthen their causes. I feel we all need to unite and do this for each other because in order to create real change we must help one another grow stronger. Two of my favorite local events to go to is Sabrina Cohen Adaptive Beach Day where I can surf and paint and Woody Stock which is a great concert held by Woody Beckham and his foundation to help people with low hand function gain more by using his products.
We would like to thank Kat for sharing her stories and look forward to catching up at Family Cafe!
To find out more information on Kat and her books, please check out her website http://www.katsamazingstories.godaddysites.com/ and her radio show http://www.weinetwork.com/ Behind the Chair. Please check out this link to hear Cheryl’s interview and search for Cheryl Albright.
Soul To Soul Yoga has Kat’s books in the waiting area. Come in and ready them today!