From the CEO
One of the transitions I needed to make when first working with AWS Foundation was to challenge my more than 30 years of training and mindset regarding disabilities. My perspective of disability was too often through the lens of a medical professional. Deafness, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injury, Lowe Syndrome, and dozens of others were all “conditions” I had seen throughout my career as a nurse and hospital administrator. What I know now is that disability is a natural part of the human experience. Disability is a minority group that any of us could join at any time.
Disability can be an array of medical conditions. Many disability attributes are identified through the medical system and are classified with a “diagnosis.” The problem with this approach is that it can lead to the mindset that disability is a problem that needs to be cured. This approach focuses more on the person’s deficits than on potential.
Disability can be a medical condition, but it is so much more. Disability is a part of every sector of our community. Rather than something to be cured, we need to address it as an attribute of the people in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
ADA Amplified Symposium
by: Andie Mosley
On September 19, we were honored to attend IUFW’s ADA Amplified Symposium featuring guest speaker Judy Heumann. To better understand Judy and her impact on disability rights, you need to do some research, but I’ll try to give a brief synopsis.
Judy began using a wheelchair in 1949 after contracting polio. Throughout her life, she was denied access to many aspects of life considered rights for non-disabled people, including public school and employment. Each time she, and often her family, fought and usually won. She became the first wheelchair user to teach in New York City Public Schools. Her activism didn’t stop at her personal battles. She was instrumental in the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, IDEA, and Section 504. You can see some of her and her fellow disability rights activists in the documentary, “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution.” Judy was a founding member of the Berkley Center for Independent Living and the World Institute on Disability. She served under both the Clinton and Obama administrations. Under Clinton, Judy served as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education. President Obama appointed her as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State.
Ways to Foster Inclusive Values in Children
by: Mandy Drakeford
When parents find out they are expecting, so much time and energy go into preparation for the birth of the baby – the nursery, baby showers, name research, and so much more. When I found out I was expecting my first son in 2014, while I contemplated the nursery color and read through the book of 10,000 names, I also spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I would raise my children with inclusive values. I desired to raise kind, respectful, understanding, and empathetic children. I wanted my son to recognize each person for who they are, and the value they bring individually instead of developing assumptions and stereotypes impressed upon by society.
Our quest to live inclusive lives hasn’t been perfect, but here are some of the ways I’ve worked as a mom to foster a spirit of inclusivity in my own children.
If you missed last issue, you may be wondering about the name of our newsletter. Patti gave a history of the name and its meaning for our organization. You can read all about it here.
Lindsey Keller joined our staff on Monday, September 19, as the Office Coordinator & Engagement Specialist. She has a degree in Communication from the University of Saint Francis and recently worked for the Community Foundation of DeKalb County.
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