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Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Thursday, September 4, 2003
Year IV, Edition 140

This front page features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this page for the rest of today's news.

"We want to be treated as people, not case numbers. Living at home. Independent. That's what we want."

--Claude Holcomb, ADAPT organizer from Hartford, Connecticut, on the reason he has joined other disability rights activists on the 144-mile Free Our People March from Philadelphia to Washington, DC (First story)

"We don’t want handouts, we want an opportunity to prosper like the rest of the community."
--Lincoln Myers, former Trinidad government Minister and current adviser to the island's Disabled People International, commenting after a 116-day protest ended successfully last week (Second story)



Free Our People March Starts At Liberty Bell

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 4, 2003

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA--An estimated 160 disability rights activists headed out Thursday from Philadelphia, known as the "birthplace of American democracy", in an effort to change Medicaid as we know it during this Congressional session.

The advocates, many in wheelchairs, left the site of the Liberty Bell to begin a 144-mile march toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC and a September 17 rally where they expect to join 20,000 supporters.

Their mission is to draw attention to the need for Congress to pass S971 and H.R. 2032, commonly known as the Medicaid Community-based Attendant Services and Supports Act (MiCASSA). The bipartisan legislation, which was first introduced in 1997, would allow Medicaid recipients to choose the supports they need to live in their own homes rather than being forced to move into nursing homes or other institutions. The measure has been passed over repeatedly in past sessions.

The grassroots advocacy group ADAPT is heading up the Free Our People March, but is supported by dozens of other groups in its efforts to get MiCASSA passed.

"We've been working for over ten years to get this legislation passed," said Eric von Schmetterling of Philadelphia ADAPT, "and Congress keeps refusing to act, despite the fact that there are 600 organizational supporters, and despite the fact that every additional day they keep their heads in the sand, they are wasting the lives of older and disabled Americans who remain warehoused in this nation's nursing homes and institutions."

"We want to be treated as people, not case numbers," Claude Holcomb, an ADAPT organizer from Hartford, Connecticut, told the Hartford Advocate. "Living at home. Independent. That's what we want."

ADAPT organizers are asking disability rights advocates to tell their local media and lawmakers about the Free Our People March and its significance for people with disabilities around the country. Passage of MiCASSA could mean an overdue shift in how people receive their Medicaid supports and how the government provides services for them.

Day 1: "We Are Marching on Congress!" (
"Don't Fence Me In" (Hartford Advocate)
The Medicaid Community Attendant Services Act, MiCASSA (ADAPT)



Trinidad Activists Score Victory With 15-Week Protest

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 4, 2003

PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD--A 116-day protest in front of a government facility ended last Friday with activists declaring victory.

The protest started soon after the state-owned National Flour Mills refused to hire Devon Garraway and Anthony Diaz in the first week of May. It ended when Prime Minister Patrick Manning promised employment at the facility for the two men -- who are members of Trinidad and Tobago's branch of Disabled Persons International -- along with other significant concessions.

During the fifteen week demonstration, protesters gathered under a tent outside National Flour Mills, educating reporters, government officials and the public about their issues.

According to George Daniel, president of the local DPI chapter, Mr. Manning agreed to several conditions in addition to hiring Garraway and Diaz. Daniel said that Manning promised that a Disabilities Act, similar to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, would be put in place to protect the rights of people with disabilities. A good start is Manning's commitment that all schools -- including old buildings -- would be made accessible to persons with disabilities.

The protesters are cautiously optimistic that their action will have a lasting impression on the island nation's attitudes.

"We are satisfied for now with the Prime Minister’s pronouncement. But the disabled community will remain visible . . . we will not go invisible again," Daniel told the Trinidad Guardian.

"We have paid a great price and we hope that the last 15 weeks will not go in vain."

Wednesday's Trinidad Guardian ran an editorial supporting the activists' work.

"Camp dismantled, but...'Disabled will not disappear'" (Trinidad Guardian)
"A large step by disabled" (Trinidad Guardian)



Hospital Staff And Police Slow To Act To Sexual Assault Report

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 4, 2003

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA--Police and hospital authorities were slow to act Monday when patients at a local private hospital reported witnessing a sexual assault upon a 13-year-old girl.

Rosana Petersen and Chantal Snyman, patients at Entabeni Hospital annex, said they were stunned when they walked into one ward they saw a man from another ward laying on top of the girl who has Down syndrome. The man's pants were down and the girl's top had been removed.

"I screamed at him and he immediately got up and left the ward," Peterson told the Daily News. "I alerted the hospital authorities, but it seemed that they were not perturbed. They took it calmly and removed the man to a private ward."

"I saw it," said Snyman. "They cannot tell me that I did not see this man on top of that girl. He had removed her top."

Petersen decided to phone the local police emergency number to report the crime. It took some time for the police to finally arrive, she said.

Police Captain Gugu Sabela confirmed that a complaint of attempted rape was recorded.

"The police were very busy at the time they received the call and since it was an attempted rape complaint, they went there after finishing what they were busy with in the first place," said Sabela.

"The child was hysterical and she was screaming," said Peterson. "I insisted that the matron call the child's parents and said they had a right to know that their daughter had been attacked."

The mother and a doctor did arrive to calm the girl down.

Graeme Kendall, general manager of the hospital, confirmed that there had been an incident.

"We are conducting a full investigation and we will be speaking to all parties, and then we will report our findings," said Kendall.



Network Recognizes "Fifth Freedom"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 4, 2003

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA--On January 6, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech in which he outlined what became popularly known as the "Four Freedoms" : Freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. The president's words became the theme of a famous series of paintings by Norman Rockwell.

Many people with disabilities would add a fifth, "Freedom from societal exclusion", according to Sheri Caveda.

Caveda is the executive director of Fifth Freedom, an Indiana grass-roots network designed to help improve the lives of people with disabilities.

According to their Web site, Fifth Freedom is an effort by various groups, including the Indiana Governor's Planning Council for People with Disabilities, to create "a consumer network capable of linking disability stakeholders throughout the state. In this vision, people with disabilities, their families, and their friends share information, support one another in advocacy activities, and work together on systems change projects."

The group even has its own painting, in the style of Norman Rockwell, emphasizing this 'fifth freedom'.

Network is giving voice to disabled (Indianapolis Star)
Fifth Freedom - Accessible Information To Effect Change



South Carolina Medicaid Program Offers Choices

September 4, 2003

SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a brief story in Thursday's The State:

Eighty-six-year-old Roberta Rentz of Woodruff doesn't want to go to a nursing home. Her family doesn't want her to go.

A new state program will help her keep her independence - and her home.

Rentz was the first person to sign up for S.C. Choice on Wednesday. The initiative allows some elderly or disabled South Carolinians to make their own health care decisions and control their health care spending.

Gov. Mark Sanford and Health and Human Services director Robert Kerr launched the program in Spartanburg on Wednesday.

Entire article:
"Medicaid initiative offers choices" (The State)



Invisible Lives & Invisible Deaths

The Washington Post won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for these two series, Invisible Lives: D.C.'s Troubled System for the Retarded, and Invisible Deaths: The Fatal Neglect of D.C.'s Retarded



Quote worth noting:
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something, and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the one thing I can do."

Edward Everett Hale, US author & Unitarian clergyman (1822–1909)


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