UsersFirst is going to battle and I am one of the warriors. My name is Jennifer Wolff. I am an occupational therapist in northeast Iowa and a wheelchair user (from a tumor inside the spinal cord, subsequent surgery and radiation) for 11 years.
When Medicare denied my first replacement chair and I had to fight for 2 years for a chair of the same or lesser level, I got mad.
Advocating for policy change for wheelchair coverage began in 2010 when I first attended an advocacy conference in Washington, DC and met Ann Eubank. Ann inspired me, on a whole different level, to share my story and encourage others to share theirs, as a means of empowerment. Continuing to attend conferences in DC, Abilities Expos, United Spinal’s Roll on Capitol Hill–and even a stint as Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2011– have all contributed to my ongoing passion for grassroots change and empowering people with disabilities.
At a state level, I also am on the board of Spinal Cord Association of Iowa, am the Iowa Representative for the American Occupational Therapy Association and a proud member of the Iowa Olmstead Consumer Task Force.
Wheelchair users across the county are experiencing many of the same difficulties–long waits for equipment, not getting the right equipment or access to needed repairs and in some cases getting equipment that is just plain wrong. Over the years, my frustration has only grown stronger but the constant message I get from our legislators’ offices is that they want to hear from us, the wheelchair user, the one who is most affected by the current policies.
So, as I take on this new role as manager of the UsersFirst program, I hope I can educate, motivate and collaborate with my fellow “rollers”. Each one of you has a story. You may think no one is listening and at first it may feel that way, but the more you share, the right people begin to hear. Advocacy has become my life’s passion and I only hope I can listen and share your stories and empower you to speak out too.
Please join UsersFirst, talk to me, tell me what you want and need and I will work with you and provide information and encouragement so we can make a difference together. I look forward to working with all of you.
Please feel free to contact me with any stories, issues and successes so I can share them with the rest of our troop! I look forward to seeing many of you at this year’s Roll on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 22-25, 2014.
I am Jenn Wolff, wheelchair warrior, ready to go to battle. Join me!
UsersFirst, a program of United Spinal Association