LEND Program Makes Dream a Reality

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LEND GraduatesBill S.601: [We resolve] that a special commission is hereby established for the purpose of making an investigation and study relative to the need for accessible homes for… families that include persons with disabilities.  (188th session)

Wow. How incredibly satisfying. Who would have thought I would have a bill before the MA Legislature? And all because of my LEND Fellowship.

Joining LEND

As a parent of a child with a disability, I came to LEND from a place of isolation and frankly, a great deal of anger. I was angry at all the obstacles I now faced with my son who uses a wheelchair.

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had increased access in the last twenty plus years, there was still a tremendous amount of work to do.

Finding Support From LEND Colleagues

LEND provided me with the tools I needed to address the frustrations I faced. As part of a diverse cohort of ten other like-minded individuals, I was able to break through an intense period of loneliness.

I wasn’t alone; there were other people who thought about these issues. There were parents and individuals with disabilities as well as professionals already working in the field.

As I watched my colleagues transform, I knew I was growing as well. It was safe to speak your mind in the group — but more importantly, we learned to listen. Really listen. And I learned to control my anger and focus that energy in a more productive direction.

Thinking About “Visitability”

My LEND capstone project focused on the housing market and the incredible shortage of accessible housing. While we could modify our own home to accommodate our son’s disability, as he grew, it had become more and more difficult to visit other people’s homes.

I discovered “visitability,” a simple concept that requires three features in new home construction: one door into a house without a step, a first floor bathroom, and 32″ wide doorways.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if new homes were built this way? These three simple elements would allow our family to visit anyone!

My Capstone Project

My LEND capstone project was a plan to get this simple idea accepted as a new building standard. Part of the plan was to get a dialogue started between diverse groups who would benefit from access.

Bill S.601 is the beginning of that conversation, one that has taken on a life of its own. Now I read about groups voting to support the bill and representatives signing on. Such a simple idea; yet, what a profound difference this could make for the aging and disabled populations.

LEND helped me in accomplishing my goal…what about you? Join us next week to learn more about opportunities LEND can provide.

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