Sharing her story and sharing resources are both very important to Anjali. While nearly everything she does is some kind of outreach, Anjali focuses her efforts especially toward young people with disabilities and raising awareness of all. Interested in having Anjali come speak at one of your events? If you are interested in meeting her in person and hearing her incredible story, please contact us so that we can discuss and plan accordingly. We look forward to hearing from you!
Surrounded by new friends – so excited that Anjali could sign, even a little Indian sign language – at a boarding school for deaf and hearing-impaired boys in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.
Since 2002, Anjali has been living in central Illinois, where she has continued a tradition of service begun in her earlier home of Natick, Massachusetts. Over the years in Illinois, Anjali has worked with kids and adults with disabilities in capacities ranging from mentoring to public speaking to running events.
At the campus-level, Anjali was a room coordinator at the interactive experiential diversity education museum Boxes and Walls for the people with disabilities room. Anjali has also been actively involved with Delta Sigma Omicron, a disability service fraternity affiliated with the University of Illinois that plans an annual holiday party for children with disabilities in the area.
Education and promoting awareness are equally important to Anjali as working directly with children with disabilities. She has guest spoken for various University classes (special education, rehabilitation, community health, speech and hearing science, education policy studies), in local elementary and middle schools, and at other community organizations.
Anjali takes many of her local outreach activities to the national level as well. Whether guest speaking at a local school or corporate event or just showing up and teaching a group of people about wheelchair track or life with a disability, Anjali always finds a way to keep busy. With her role as an ambassador for The Hartford, she is able to travel to many more cities in the U.S. and spend more time with more groups.
Also in national service, Anjali serves on the boards of directors of several organizations, including Disabled Sports USA and Wheelchair Track & Field USA, an affiliate of Wheelchair Sports USA.
As she does locally and did before sponsorship, Anjali speaks at colleges and secondary schools nationally. Since the advent of AnjaliForberPratt.com, Anjali also receives direct contacts from teachers through the web site contact form. While not always able to take the time and expense to visit a school or group just anywhere in the United States, Anjali is often able to help connect people to other remarkable disabled individuals and athletes. When she can fit it into her schedule, Anjali does– in 2009 she spoke at a skiing event at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire between track competitions.
With her international work, the word ambassador has taken on new meaning for Anjali. She considers herself very fortunate to be able to represent the USA as a Paralympic athlete. In Japan, she spent time with U.S. military families, who really took the Paralympic athletes in. While anyone disabled is ineligible to serve in the U.S. military, the soldiers and families kept saying to the athletes:
you are out there representing us the way we need to be represented.
With her extensive experience as a volunteer and organizer, and her academic training in science and education, Anjali has much to offer any organization or group fortunate enough to share time with her.
Anjali tries to learn about the structure of the organizations she visits and give advice. Sometimes international aid comes in the form of an attempt to play the expert and solve all problems, and then leave-- that is not sustainable. Anjali uses her enthusiasm, energy, and knowledge to be a catalyst, and to guide, not tell. In 2009 in Bermuda Anjali was in the happy position of teaching the coaches and program coordinators that they were doing great!
In India, the country of her birth, Anjali was able in visits in 2006 and 2009 to make a big impact on a small orphanage, Shishur Sevay, in Kolkata. Also in India, in 2009 in Udaipur where her brother Ian spent five months doing social work with Seva Mandir, Anjali was able with one visit each to boarding schools for blind and for deaf boys and a follow-up meeting to inspire many ideas and set exciting collaborations in motion.
Everywhere Anjali goes she spreads awareness, teaches others, and shows people what they can do.