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Patient Ambassador Madelyn Honors ADA Anniversary

July 28 was the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a day that so many patients and families – current and former – of Shriners Hospitals for Children mark with celebration. St. Louis Patient Ambassador, and immediate past National Patient Ambassador Madelyn spoke at the 30th anniversary of the ADA celebration in Missouri’s capital of Jefferson City.

Madelyn was joined by one her best friends, fellow patient and former National Patient Ambassador Katie on her trip to Jefferson City. Katie has a leg amputation and is a member of the U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey Team. She recently graduated from Lindenwood University.

Below are a few highlights from Madelyn’s speech that day:

"Happy 30th Anniversary to the ADA! I am so grateful for those who have paved the way for the rights that those with disabilities have today. It is incredible to think that 30 years ago I would not have an equal education as my non-disabled counterparts, access to accessible parking, elevators and so much more. I sadly was ignorant to my own disability history until this year. However, I spent the past four months deliberately educating myself on the disability civil rights movement. I can't even imagine a world without the ADA.”

"That being said, the one thing that the ADA has not removed is the social and attitudinal barriers that still exist today. Such as I have had a handful of teachers and professors believe that I do not need my accommodations because they believe it is an advantage. People, like myself, are also often pitied or seen as inspirational for doing something ordinary. I cannot tell you the amount of times people have expressed how they are sorry for me. If only they knew I am the person that I am today because I have one arm. I would not be studying occupational therapy, have the confidence that I have in speaking to others, half the amount of friends, and so many other life experiences that were brought to me because I was born with a disability.”

"I hope that moving forward in the next 30 years we are able to change the mindset of what disability means. I hope that those born in the next generation don’t have to worry about attitudinal barriers. As I stated before, I am a strong believer in the fact that education leads to inclusion, and I hope that talking about disability one day will be normalized. My hope is that all people, disabled or not, understand the disability rights movement, as I did not. As I continue throughout my life, I will continue to educate others about disabilities and bring awareness. I believe that all of us born after the ADA need to take a stance and educate. Together we can continue the work that began so many years ago."

If you’d like to learn more and work to change your own mindset about people with disabilities, Madelyn recommends reading Being Heumann and About Us, or watch the show Crip Camp. She also recommends listening to Disarming Disability's podcasts.

Madelyn and Katie in front of state house

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