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Center for Independent Living event marks anniversary of ADA

Julie Farrar and Anita Cameron traveled to Williamsport to let people at the Center for Independent Living know that they are behind them.

“They asked us to speak,” Farrar, of Albany, New York, said. “We have been activists since the 1980s. We want to share the story of the rights movements.”

Farrar and Cameron, of Rochester, New York, know whereof they speak.

Farrar and Cameron have diverse abilities and have fought for the rights of others with in the community.

They were on hand Tuesday for the Center for Independent Living celebration marking the 32nd anniversary of the signing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cameron, who is blind and has multiple sclerosis, said she felt it was important to talk to those gathered for the outdoors event about ADA.

She and Farrar have been on the front lines, advocating to bring positive change for those with disabilities.

Both participated in the Capitol Crawl in 1990, a watershed event that led to the passage of the ADA, and have made their voices heard at other events.

“We took over the Capitol Rotunda,” Cameron said. “I’ve been arrested 140 times.”

Center for Independent Living CEO Misty Dion said the annual CIL celebration brings the community together and brings more awareness to people with disabilities.

She noted, however, that much work remains to be done.

“The fight is still real,” she said.

Often, people don’t realize the change needed until they or loved ones are impacted by a disability.

Jay Harner, supervisor of Short Term Services and Support, agreed and is glad CIL is there for people who need its services.

He broke his neck when he was just 18 years old and now gets around in a wheelchair.

“Our main goal is to keep people living as long as that is their goal,” he said. “Whatever we can do to keep them out of nursing facilities.”

He said the first question people who are suddenly faced with a disability often ask is who will take care of them.

Karen Koch, advisory coordinator, said, “For many people, Independence Day is celebrated on July Fourth. For members of the disability community, it is July 26.”

“It’s important for people to know what we provide,” she said. “We help people overcome barriers they need to be successful in the community.”

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