Valley Life for All: Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act
Editor’s note: the Post Independent, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, publishes a monthly series about fostering inclusion.
Jimena De La Cruz was being wheeled around by her parents, Andrea Ramos and Mario De La Cruz. The sights and sounds were exciting; Glenwood Springs had its first annual American with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebration at Two Rivers Park this July. It was also disability-pride month.
There was a small and diverse crowd, but one in which all had a commonality: They either supported those with disabilities or were a person with a disability, some of who prefer to call a challenge or an ability.
For Jimena’s parents, the celebration — complete with speakers, live music and some vendors — was an opportunity to be a part of a community. Jimena, 9, has cerebral palsy.
“I do feel alone sometimes,” being a parent of a child with disabilities, said her father, Mario. “It would be nice to have community.”
Mia Obreque, age 10, has autism. She was helping hand out flyers with her mom, Maribel Obreque, director of family services for The Arc of the Central Mountains, which promotes the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and supports their full inclusion into society. Mia sees no barrier in her life, although she no longer wants to be pulled out of class for speech therapy. She wants to play piano, paint and go to class with her peers.
Maribel said the ADA has done so much for people, but there’s still unmet needs: “We need age appropriate information on autism. People think negatively of themselves instead of focusing on the awesome skill sets they have.” She hopes to see more education and support within the community.
Bobbie Meriwether was delighted with the ADA celebration. Deaf since her 30s, she reads lips and uses sign language. She wished more people turned out for the celebration.
“The hearing community suffers enough with isolation,” she said. “And, while we value our community, we also love to mingle with and sign to the caretakers, the families — our fellow citizens!”
Said Maribel Obreque, who spoke to the gathering that evening, “The work’s not done yet, but we’re excited to have this valley behind us.”
“This is our first ever ADA celebration, and we hope it’s the first of many,” said Jill Pidcock, Executive Director of The Arc.
As the sun sunk lower to the horizon, people who were once strangers at the start of the evening’s celebration exchanged names and numbers — and hope for the future.
Local nonprofit Valley Life For All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Find us at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or on Facebook.
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