I am not exactly sure how it works in other countries, but to witness everyday Americans raising the money to get to Washington, focusing on important issues, finding our own individual voices and then meeting with members of Congress – was nothing less than awe inspiring. To bring the day to an almost magical completion, United Spinal hosted a reception in one of the most ornately beautiful rooms on the Hill, the Cannon Caucus Room. There, we honored Senator Harkin with the James J. Peters Disability Rights Champion Award for his continued dedication to the disability community.
Representative Jim Langevin from RI, who is a power wheelchair user, spoke to us in support of our cause along with Representative John Conyers. The room was filled with more than 200 distinguished Washington disability advocates, staffers from many offices and us – people from all over the country who use wheelchairs that made a difference today– a big difference.
This is how our country works. When we notice inequality and injustices, such as decreased access to employment, appropriate mobility products and the community in general, we have the right, and some would say the duty, to say something – to stay connected, to gather, and to speak out with a united voice.
We were a community this week. People with disabilities, people who use wheelchairs, clinicians that dedicate their lives to facilitate freedom of mobility, companies who supported this event and whose goal it is to provide quality mobility products and service and nonprofit advocates who are motivated by mission – to gain equality for Americans with disabilities.
The “Roll on Capitol Hill” was invigorating to say the least. This experience bolsters our efforts towards accessing our communities via the right wheelchair. UsersFirst will help us stay connected.
Here are a few small, yet impactful things you can do to help sustain the cause; go to the website (www.usersfirst.org) to: 1. Be counted as someone who cares about this cause and “join”, 2. Follow us on Facebook, 3. Tell your friends, family and colleagues to do the same, 4. Go to the Mobility Map for answers to your wheelchair questions, 5. Use the Wheelchair Checklist and refer the wheelchair checklist to anyone who is in the process of getting or looking for the right wheelchair.
Ann Eubank, LMSW, OTR/L, ATP
VP Community Initiatives
UsersFirst, a program of United Spinal Association