Springbrook Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the ADA

Oneonta, NY: This Sunday, July 26, 2015, marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To show their support for this milestone, a local group of 16 individuals and the 12 Springbrook staff who support them will be traveling to Albany’s West Capitol Park on Friday, July 24 to take part in New York State’s ADA Anniversary Celebration.

One person attending the celebration, Alva Eardley, a 2015 graduate of The School at Springbrook and Special Olympics athlete, shared his excitement about the anniversary, particularly with regard to the contributions he can make as a self-advocate and advocate for others and his choice to live in a supported, independent apartment after leaving The School at Springbrook: “I will make a difference and I am so excited about my new apartment!” Both of these opportunities are possible for the 21-year-old young man because of the advances made by the ADA.

The ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, approximately 12% of Otsego County’s estimated 61,000 residents reported having at least one type of disability. A part of that 12%, individuals with developmental disabilities often require significant support with regard to access to business, employment, transportation, and government programs and services—all opportunities that are guaranteed and protected by the ADA and ADAA. As Otsego County’s largest service provider to individuals with developmental disabilities, Springbrook supports over 850 individuals and families in our region with residential, educational, therapeutic, employment, respite, recreational, and behavior supports. “Springbrook is proud to be part of a community that has supported the individuals and families we serve for over 90 years,” said Springbrook COO, Seth Haight. “The ADA has certainly reinforced and bolstered the work we do at Springbrook and has made it part of the larger national conversation; however, our local area truly is a supportive and inclusive community, dedicated to creating a place where all people are welcomed, no matter what their ability,” he continued.

Special Education teacher at Springbrook’s Tom Golisano Center for Autism, Katie Yorks shared her thoughts on attending the state-wide ADA celebration: “The Americans with Disabilities Act allows each of the unique individuals Springbrook supports to participate equally in daily life, a right that can often be taken for granted. While ‘participation’ means something different for each individual, the ADA has allowed individuals with disabilities to be more active participants in their daily lives and experience all that life has to offer. I am excited to see individuals from across the area come together to celebrate the freedom granted rightfully to each of the deserving individuals Springbrook works with every day.” In addition to supporting the celebratory trip to the state capitol, Springbrook has marked the ADA anniversary by encouraging the public to show their support for the national “Pledge On” campaign. The pledge acknowledges the strides made for individuals with disabilities since the signing of the ADA, while calling for more action. Signing the online pledge shows the public’s support for further efforts to fully implement the ADA. More information regarding the ADA and the “Pledge On” campaign can be found at http://adaanniversary.org/pledgeon.

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