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VAN Forum

Disability Awareness: Living an Active and Engaged Life - Stillwater

April 14, 2010
10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Candy Pettiford, Courage Center client, volunteer tour guide and community speaker
Connie Shaffer, Driver's Assessment and Training, Courage Center
Christian Knights, Public Affairs associate, Courage Center

Family Means
1875 Northwestern Avenue S
Stillwater, MN 55082



On Thursday, April 15, 2010 40 people gathered to learn about aging and disability. The Forum began with a panel of older adults living active lives despite having a disability. The panel was facilitated by Candy Pettiford. Below are the questions asked of the panel, and the panelists' responses.

Question: Do you think that you have an instant bon with other people living with disabilities?

  • All panelists agreed that there is a connection to other people living with disabilities. They also talked about how living with a disability connects people of all generations.
  • Another panelist said that when one has a disability there is no racial barrier.

Question: What kind of activities do you enjoy?

  • One panelist talked about spending time on the computer and participate in fantasy baseball.
  • Another panelist likes to read - especially on the Kindle.
  • The third panelist said she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and acting.
  • The fourth panelist said she enjoys going to the theater.

Question: What kind of barriers do you face?

  • All panelists agreed that handicap parking is a barrier. They said they often feel like they have to justify parking in a handicap parking spot.
  • Many of the panelists felt that they are being judged.
  • Some of the panelists also felt that the biggest barriers they face, are the ones they place on themselves. Like they said, "You can't feel sorry for yourself." You have to look at change as a friend.
  • Transportation was also a barrier for people.

Connie Shaffer spoke about the Drivers Assessment that the Courage Center offers. The Courage Center has an objective test to help determine whether is a person is capable of driving or not. She reiterated that driving is a privilege not a right, and that's why these assessment exist.

Finally, Christian Knights talked about current legislation at the Minnesota capitol. He encouraged people to become advocates for disabilities and aging. He provided a tip to help people communicate with representatives. He said to put a personal zip code in the subject line of an email. This will guarantee a much faster response then sending an email without one.

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