Americans with Disability Act anniversary, a chance to celebrate ability

Ability in ActionA celebration of ability is set to take place on Tuesday, July 22 from 3-6 p.m. at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.

Ability in Action celebrates the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The act was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and offers wide-ranging protections against disability discrimination.

Dave Bulkowski is the Executive Director of Disability Advocates of Kent County, a non-profit organization hosting the festivities. The group advocates for and facilitates ways to achieve equal access for people with disabilities in a variety of situations, including housing, transportation, and employment. Over 50 percent of the people who work for the organization have some type of disability.

Bulkowski said the anniversary of the ADA passage is a chance to celebrate progress, change attitudes, and rally people to further action and commitment to the cause.

“It’s a great touchstone for people to remember how much of a struggle it was to get the ADA passed,” he said.  “We celebrate that hard work and we celebrate the hard work of the past 24 years to implement the law.”

Bulkowski said there’s still a ways to go in the fight for equal access for people with disabilities, and in turning common misperceptions about what is possible around.

“We’ve got to keep remembering we’re not quite there and we’re not going away until we are there,” he said.

A host of fun activities and entertainment is planned for the celebration.

  • Dancers from Arts in Motion Studio West Michigan will perform. The studio specializes in adaptive instruction in the creative arts for the physically, emotionally, and mentally challenged. “You’re going to see the ability of these people to dance, not their disability,” Bulkowski said.
  • The rock and pop band Short Division will play.
  • A drum crew, face painting and take-home craft project are a few of the things Artists Creating Together, a Grand Rapids organization that brings students with disabilities together with artists and art projects, will provide.
  • You can take a wheelchair ride around the Grand Rapids Art Museum for prizes, or shoot free throws to test your skill.
  • A variety of food and snacks will be available, including fresh fruit puree snowcones from Kitchen Sage.

Bulkowski said he hopes the celebration starts changing the conversation when it comes to disabilities. Instead of that being the first thing people notice, he hopes events like this will help people see those with disabilities for who they really are: people with varied talents and skills and people who are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters, just like them.

Photo credit: Ability in Action

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