Just 30 years ago, the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. Since that day, July 26, 1990, the ADA has thrust the United States towards equal access and rights for people with disabilities in all areas of public life. Today, Youth Challenge is a member of ADA Cleveland, a coalition of disability related organizations that share in the mission to provide greater access and opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
You might remember YC taking part if ADA Days at Wade Oval for the past few years. In 2020, in addition to the fun-filled gathering at Wade Oval, ADA Cleveland was planning a March for Access at Public Square where people could come together to demand further access and rights beyond the mandates in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced ADA Cleveland to change course and put on a 30-day virtual event – the Call for Access!
From July 26 through August 26, ADA Cleveland put together a series of webinars, activities, and advocacy opportunities for anyone to participate in – from anywhere! YC staff, alumni, and participants took part in many of the activities. In all, when the event wrapped up on August 26, the Cleveland community stepped away with new knowledge, skills, and abilities to help advocate for further access for people with disabilities. You can view the archived videos from the Call for Access here.
Some of the wonderful ways YC took part in the 2020 Call for Access:
- YC Alumnus Darrien Fann gave a rousing speech to kick off the Call for Access! You can watch the kickoff at this link. His speech starts at 44:15.
- Our very own Program & Arts Coordinator, Megan Smith, co-led a De-stressing Crafts activity! Check it out on Facebook Live. She also led a video to inspire artists through ADA Cleveland’s Chalk Art Challenge (video here).
- Carolyn Palmer, our Communications & Events Manager, helped educate advocates through the Advocacy 101 webinar. Watch here.
- Sarah Cooney, our Director of Volunteer & Outreach Services, led a wonderful panel on Making Volunteer Service Opportunities Accessible! Watch her here.
- Sean Walker and Will Gallup, two of our amazing alumni, presented as Good Life Ambassadors for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Watch them here.
- CEO Chris Garr, Director of Programs Services Mackenzie Vecchio, and Bocce Coach Sean Walker had a blast talking about Finding Access Through Adaptive Recreation. They were joined by some of our fabulous partners at Rec2Connect, Empower Sports, LEAP, and Achievement Centers for Children. Catch the video here.
- Former Program Staff Member Gaby Martinez moderated a engaging panel, including Alumnus Darrien Fann, about Black Disability History and Activism. Watch the powerful conversation here.
Just because the formal event is over doesn’t mean we’re done calling for access! As we move forward from our 2020 Call for Access, our advocacy for greater access for people with disabilities doesn’t end. You can help make a difference – visit www.ADACleveland.org/Advocate today to contact your elected officials and tell them that you support access for people with disabilities.
Thank you to all the members of the YC family who supported ADA Cleveland’s Call for Access and to everyone who continues to advocate for people with disabilities! The world is a better place because of you.