It is not the individual who is disabled, but the society that fails to accept him or her.
Chances are, if youre human, youre disabled; according to the National Organization on Disability, one in five people is disabled.
You may only need eyeglasses or a hearing aid. You may need a cane, a walker or a wheelchair. You may need more time to complete a task. You may need medication to help you be more normal. Regardless of the disability, physical and attitudinal impairments limit full and free participation in society.
But what is normal? Normal is what you make your life one day at a time; what is normal is different for each of us.
Our challenge? To accept each others differences. We can start by seeing wheelchairs in a new light. As the RAMP Web site, www.rampcil.org, explains: The wheelchair is what enables the person to get around and participate in society; its liberating, not confining.
July 26 is the 16th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) as signed into law by the first President Bush. The ADA literally opened the doors to equal access and unlimited opportunity for many. But as individuals and a society, have we embraced this law, or have we resisted it as we have the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
In light of this anniversary, how appropriate that July 29 is Freeports 7th Annual Wheel-A-Thonan event to raise money and awareness of the opportunities and challenges for people with disabilities in Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone and DeKalb counties.
RAMP stands for Regional Mobilization Access ProjectRAMPs mission is to promote an accessible society that allows and expects full participation by people with disabilities.
You cannot appreciate how inaccessible our society still is until you have ridden a mile in someone elses wheelchair.
If you are interested in sponsoring or participating in Freeports Wheel-A-Thon, call Jackie Nieman at RAMP at 233-1128 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. It starts at 10 a.m. at Freeports Krape Park.
From the July 26-Aug. 1, 2006, issue