SKIL was created by; is driven by; and is focused on persons with disabilities, their families, and communities. We provide Advocacy, Education,and Support with Customer Controlled services to break down and remove existing barriers and bridge social gaps to ensure and preserve Equality and Independence for all.

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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.