by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Acessible Public Transit) is a national grassroots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. When ADAPT first began in 1983, its primary mission was to assist the disabled in getting quality public transportation. Since that time their goals have changed, becoming broader. Today they strive for equal rights for the disabled in just about every arena possible.
The Kansas ADAPT group was established in 1991. At one time SKIL, like many other Kansas centers for independent living, was heavily involved in this grassroots activism.
“At one point by the late 1990s to the early 2000s, Kansas had one of the biggest groups in the country,” explains Mike Oxford, national organizer for ADAPT. “We had four different state sub-groups, and we were very active with these different groups. But frankly, around the time of the Great Recession of 2008, the budget were a big harm. Then behind that came changes to the largest funding streams that the centers were using—the Medicaid self-directed kind of services—and those things changed the way the centers had previously had income and operating budgets, which hurt their ability to help fund grassroots efforts like ADAPT. Combining with that has been our modern era of the Brownback Administration and things like Kancare and managed care and all of that... Those things created a climate and conditions where centers didn't feel like they had the ability to donate money and engage in grassroots activism the way they had previously.”
Today, Oxford says, Kansas ADAPT is starting to reemerge in the wake of government-orchestrated threats to the disabled community. “A lot of these centers are coming back to these grassroots movements and working through this,” Oxford explains. “So I'm really excited. We've been through a lot, but we still maintained a presence. We still maintained our ADAPT identity here in Kansas. We're still very well known and respected. I'm just looking for being in a zeitgeist where we're going to go the other way, where centers are now going to feel like they have to reengage in activism and they want to get involved in this. Because we're fighting for our lives right now. There are threats such as cutting Medicaid to trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act to threatening Medicare. Over the years I've seen that the real grassroots groups rise up when they feel threatened, and right now the threat is real and the need to fight back is very big.”
This past year Kansas ADAPT held a protest outside Senator Moran's office in Pittsburg in an attempt to convince the senator not to vote for the dismantling of the ADA. “That was one of the best protests we saw here in Kansas this last year,” says Oxford.
There are talks of a reemergence of ADAPT at SKIL in Parsons. Parties interested in getting involved can go to the Kansas ADAPT page on Facebook for more information or contact SKIL to express their interest directly.
by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
Michael Burt, the regional Working Healthy Benefits Specialist, will be holding a training on the Working Healthy program on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at the Dale Apartments community room (2016 W. 8th Street) in Coffeyville, Kansas, at 10:30 am.
This will allow people to learn about this valuable program and to find out if they are eligible and how they can sign up. “What makes the Working Healthy program unique is that it is a Medicaid buy-in, which allows people who sign up for it and are elgible for it to actually earn a wage, save more of their money, keep more of their assets, and pursue their career goals,” says SKIL Housing Director Greg York.
“Without the Working Healthy program, the most assets a person on Medicaid can have and still be eligible is $1,200,” explains York. “With this program, the amount of money a person can have in their savings is $1,500. With this program, it allows people with disabilities to see employment as an attainable goal.” The program also helps qualified individuals receive attentive care if it is needed.
“Michael Burt himself has a disability and he is living proof that employment need not be seen as an unobtainable goal,” says York.
Anyone interested in attending the training or even just learning more about the program can contact Greg York at (620) 251-4249. The training is free to the general public and refreshments will be provided.
2018 Youth Scholarship Applications Now Open!
As NCIL’s 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living draws near, many youth with disabilities may be unsure of how they will fund a conference experience. Attending a national conference like this is hugely important in the life of a young person. Opportunities for networking with other young people and connecting with disabled mentors can enrich the experience of youth with disabilities and help them to learn that anything is possible for them and their futures.
The NCIL Youth Scholarship is here to help offset the cost of conference attendance. Local, regional, and national scholarships are available.
Instructions on how to apply and specifications regarding applicants are available at the Youth Scholarship Application Form.