"About Us" is a series of interviews with accomplished self-advocates in Florida.
Chatequa Pinkston form the Tampa area is living out her belief that being an example is advocacy in action.
She's earned several college degrees, including a master's in computer science from the University of South Florida. Despite her love of learning, Chatequa will tell you her passion is Hidden Treasures, the disability-based ministry she founded that seeks to get churches more involved in meeting the friendship needs of people with disabilities in their congregations and communities. Her advocacy interests are indeed diverse. Currently, she is the chair of the' Community Advisory Committee for the Florida Center for Inclusive Communities at USF, a board member for Yes! of America, and FL SAND's newest at-large board member.
Question: When did you start to identify as a self-advocate and why?
Chatequa: About six years ago. I met and became friends with another self-advocate who motivated me to become more involved in advocacy through her example.
Question: What is your funniest disability-related story? Chatequa: It's not really a funny story, but the times when I'm shopping or out with friends and other people address those I am with instead of me are the times I find myself using humor the most. Instead of getting angry, I try to make those situations funny and memorable!
Question: What advocacy related issue is the most significant to you?
Chatequa: Inclusion. We still have a long way to go toward a society that is accepting of disability. For me, the church is an important part of that. That is why I run Hidden Treasures, a disability-based ministry in the Tampa Bay area.
Question: Can you share a time when your disability inspired a behavior or comment you found particularly obnoxious?
Chatequa: Recently, I was out with a friend, and someone came up to her to ask what was wrong with me. I have cerebral palsy, but there isn't anything wrong with me. On the upside though, we were able to turn that comment into an inside joke for the rest the day.
Question: Can you name a time in which a behavior or comment inspired by your disability made you feel valued or understood? Chatequa: It isn't just one thing, but the way my friends support me is invaluable. They are always there to help with my ministry or encourage me. Also, mentoring others with disabilities and the relationships I've formed through that make me feel valued, too.
Question: In 10 years, what would you most like to see change in the lives of persons with disabilities?
Chatequa: True inclusion in all aspects of society. So many people with disabilities are isolated in their homes, or only have connection to the disability community. Widespread acceptance and relationship is needed.
Question: Who or what has most inspired your advocacy journey?
Chatequa: My friend, Becki Forsell. She was such a well-known, strong, and wonderful advocate. I want to keep the torch going.
Question: What unique strengths have your disability given you or otherwise influenced in your life? Chatequa: Determination. And not just that, but adaptability. You have to learn how to make things work when you have a disability.
Question: Can you share a product, way to complete a task, or life hack that has made life with a disability easier? Chatequa: My smart doorbell and lock. Dexterity is a challenge for me, so being able to lock my door through my phone instead of with a key provides independence.
Question: If you could pick one song as your theme song, what would you choose?
Chatequa: "I'm Still Holding On" by Luther Barnes and the Red Budd Gospel Choir.
The FSACentral staff would like to thank Chatequa for taking the time to participate in the interview. Let us know what you think about "About Us" on Facebook. If you know an accomplished self-advocate in Florida you think we should showcase in "About Us," contact us here or via Facebook.