Patricia Yeager, Ph.D., CEO
As I write this we are basking in the afterglow of our celebration luncheon of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act here in Colorado Springs.
October marks my four-year anniversary as CEO at The Independence Center. Looking back to four years ago at the lack of accessibility or awareness of the ADA, it was a little discouraging then. It was obvious there was a lot of work to be done in the Pikes Peak area.
As I set about changing the course of the Center, people began to join us. Today, we have a wonderful staff and building dedicated to working with others to create choice and independence. We also have several thriving community groups working together to create change in transit, housing and our local government’s response to the ADA.
Working together is the key concept here. All of us must sit, stand or lie (or however you show up in the world) in solidarity. When we focus our energies together on a change we want to make and stick to it, there is nothing we cannot change. Even in the Pikes Peak area.
We had 300 people attend the ADA luncheon celebration. People with disabilities were there. Local government officials, state legislators and other policy makers were there. I believe their eyes were opened to the reality that a new political power base is forming here in the Springs—a crossdisability power base. Not just those who are blind or deaf or have a physical or mental disability but all of us together showed up and sat together. With numbers like this and the law on our side, developers and policy makers are going to have to pay attention. They are going to have to obey the law as we hold them accountable.
It is up to us to use our organizing and systems change advocacy tools wisely. I’m looking forward to another four years of doing just that with all of you here at The Independence Center. ~ PY