Kudos and Kindness from Aspen Times readers (July 26, 2020) | AspenTimes.com

Kudos and Kindness from Aspen Times readers (July 26, 2020)

The Aspen Times

Celebrating 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Sunday, July 26, marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an important civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local governments’ programs and services. During a moment in our history when we are all witnessing increased attention on the importance of human rights, we are pleased to shine a bright light on this special celebration.

As leaders of several local organizations dedicated to serving the disability community, the ADA has special meaning to us. It is the “equal opportunity act” for individuals with disabilities. It not only prohibits discrimination, it also guarantees people with disabilities have the same opportunities as others to participate in the mainstream of American life; to enjoy educational opportunities, access to employment, purchase goods and services, and to participate in government programs and services. Indeed, until individuals with disabilities can enjoy life without discrimination, we as a society will not achieve equal rights for all.

As we take a moment to reflect on this anniversary, it seems hard to believe that individuals with disabilities did not have equal protections under law until 1990. And while we celebrate 30 years of progress in access and inclusion we must recognize that there is still much work to do. The Roaring Fork Valley is home to many individuals with both intellectual and physical disabilities. These citizens have desires, skills, talents and dreams like all of us, and they deserve equal access to education, employment, physical spaces and diverse life experiences.

Each of our organizations work tirelessly to support the disability community with exceptional care and exposure to experiences that create a rich life, including experiences in nature and access to our mountain paradise here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Together, we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, and we value the wonderful support we receive from members of the Roaring Fork community! Please take the time to learn about each of our organizations and the wonderful and diverse community we serve.

Peter Bell, President & CEO, Ascendigo Autism Services http://www.ascendigo.org

Jeff Hauser, CEO, Challenge Aspen http://www.challengeaspen.org

Jill Pidcock, Executive Director, The Arc of the Central Mountains http://www.arccentralmountains.org

Sara Sims, Executive Director, Mountain Valley Developmental Services http://www.mtnvalley.org

Debbie Wilde, Executive Director, Valley Life for All http://www.valleylifeforall.org

First-class response from first responders

Impressive and grateful is how I must best describe my recent experience with our valley’s finest emergency response teams when I was involved in a rather nasty auto accident at the intersection of Highway 82 and Cemetery Lane. My appreciation goes out to our Aspen Police Department, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Aspen Valley Fire Department, the EMTs from Aspen Valley Hospital, the Colorado State Patrol and Shaun’s Towing Co. and to the kindness of the anonymous witness behind me whom stopped to assist and give a statement.

Their response time and professionalism were truly impressive. We are indeed very fortunate to be served and protected by such great teams of professionals. My gratitude again to you all.

Al Kukla

Glenwood Springs

Still a great time to be a Buddy

Over the course of the past month, the Buddy Program has worked hard to realign our mentoring services for youth to operate within public health guidelines. We recognize that youth and families need positive points of connection more than ever right now.

Our amazing volunteer Big Buddies are back out and about with their Little Buddies, doing things like hiking, having picnics, and visiting the Lost Forest at Snowmass. Our LEAD (Leadership through Exploration, Action, and Discovery) group, experiential mentoring programs for teens have pivoted our traditional summer camp model to small cohort outings engaging teens in activities like biking, rock climbing, and rafting.

We want to say a huge thank you and express our gratitude to our volunteers who commit their time tirelessly to empowering their Little Buddies in both the best of times and these challenging times; and for community partners such as Aspen Skiing Co., which has provided opportunity for Buddy Program youth to access fun activities like the Lost Forest at no cost.

There’s so much to be grateful for in our Roaring Fork Valley community.

Brooke Bockelman

Program director, the Buddy Program