If it’s summer in Milwaukee, chances are it is hot and sticky outside — far from ideal conditions for many people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities. If it’s summer in Milwaukee, the chances are also good that there is some kind of exciting event taking place at Henry W. Maier Festival Park, alongside the cool waters of Lake Michigan. The park is home to the annual Summerfest concert series and is hopping nearly every weekend with a different ethnic festival offering food, entertainment and more for the entire family.
To make sure people with disabilities can partake in the fun, the Southeast Wisconsin chapter of NSCIA has teamed with the city since 1996 to staff the Stephen J. Schwalbe Respite Center. With two accessible bathrooms, air conditioning (and heating for the winter), a spacious patio and prime location for concerts, the center is an important addition.
“It allows people a chance to be a part of all the fun without being overwhelmed or in the thick of things,” says Kimberly Nerone, the special events coordinator for the Southeast Wisconsin chapter. The chapter provides three or four volunteers every day from noon to 10 p.m. when events are going on. “We’re constantly trying to raise awareness about the center,” says Nerone. “At the same time, it’s a great way to raise awareness about our chapter.”