By Nancy G. Holman
PARSONS, Kan.—The SKIL Resource Center will hold its annual Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebration on Thursday, July 26, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited.
Held outside the Parsons SKIL office on North 18th Street, the celebratory block party honors the historic signing of the ADA into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission government website www.eeoc.gov , “the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the nation’s first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications.”
SKIL’s popular community event includes a free hot dog lunch, ice cream, music by the Duke Mason Band, guest speakers, inflatables, a watermelon eating contest, door prizes, and other family fun.
Why a public party to celebrate the ADA? “It is important for the entire community to celebrate the ADA because it isn’t just for people with disabilities,” said SKIL President/CEO Shari Coatney. “It’s about moving our communities forward. I think it’s great when we all come together and see integration the way that it should be.”
Long-time SKIL customer and staff member Lucy-Shirley Crouch would like everyone to join her in celebrating the ADA. It is dear to her because she was institutionalized for many years before SKIL staff helped get her out. Freed from languishing in a mental institution for the rest of her life, Crouch recalled that she became a SKIL customer in 2000, with the goal of living on her own someday. Crouch said she also became a SKIL employee the following year. Now age 58, Crouch has successfully lived independently for the last 18 years. She enjoys life in her own apartment in Parsons with the help of her SKIL family. Despite her disabilities, Crouch also went to court and successfully petitioned to become her own legal guardian. “Lucy-Shirley exemplifies both the reason for the ADA and the success of this milestone law,” said Coatney. “She is an inspiration to me and to everyone who knows her story.” Crouch has a vision for others who are in institutions and want to live independently. “I’m working so that everyone in state hospitals and nursing homes can live in the community the way I have for the last 18 years,” she said. “Remember this when you come see us July 26th and eat hot dogs with us, (that) there are some of our brothers and sisters who may not be able to come because they’re not in independent living.”
SKIL is a multi-faceted independent living resource center that helps people with disabilities or those whose environment is disabling. Headquartered in Parsons, it has branch offices in Chanute, Columbus, Fredonia, Independence, Pittsburg and Sedan. For more information, call Parsons SKIL at: 1-800-688-5616 or contact any branch office. On the web at: www.skilonline.com