“Change happens locally” may sound like a bumper sticker, but it means much more to two NSCIA chapters this week. UsersFirst, a program of United Spinal Association, participated in grassroots events held in Detroit on Thursday and Kansas City on Saturday––I believe the above quote is actually happening.
As I travel around the country as a grassroots social worker, connecting and listening, I am absolutely energized by the shared passion of wheelchair consumers, clinicians and the hardworking medical equipment suppliers who spend their days under wheelchairs and battling insurance companies. This week’s activities demonstrate that we are connected and it will take all of us to create the positive change we need to make sure Americans have access to a wheelchair that works for them. In other words––the freedom of movement.
It might seem overwhelming to think that you can help change the system––but you can! As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This is a great quote, but we are a little different––we are a large group of people who are committed citizens and we are changing how “the system” views people with disabilities. And this type of change happens locally.
Local people gather at events like the mobility and seating celebration held in Detroit and the Greater Kansas City First Annual Ability Expo. Overall, I was able to speak with about 300 people! These are pretty dedicated people to plan, fund and attend events focusing on wheelchairs and mobility. Most attendants seemed to enjoy connecting with others and looking at the latest products and services. Many requested support in their pursuit of a wheelchair that works best for them in their life.
We discussed how frustrating it can be when “the system” denies the wheelchair you want, or the feature you need (like a light-weight wheelchair). We also discussed that finding the best wheelchair can be very difficult and confusing. Some reported the insurance red tape and receiving conflicting information can be a nightmare.
We came up with a few things we all can do to keep the movement growing. The more people who are connected, the more stories we have, the more clout we have to change the way things are done.
- Get and stay connected at www.usersfirst.org/join-with-us/form/
- Tell your story at www.usersfirst.org/submit-your-story/
- Follow local and national progress at www.facebook.com/UsersFirstAlliance
- Contact UsersFirst at firstname.lastname@example.org
When you join UsersFirst you are being counted as a person who cares that Americans have access to appropriate wheelchairs. UsersFirst organizes locally and nationally to help guide people through the wheelchair process and to challenge discriminatory wheelchair policies.
Ann Eubank, LMSW, OTR/L, ATP
VP Community Initiatives
UsersFirst, a program of United Spinal Association