Over 2,500 Advocates Will Rally in Liberty Plaza at Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary Tribute March 5
Governor Nathan Deal’s Keynote Pledges Full ADA Compliance in Georgia Plus Exclusive 17th Annual Disability Day Message from Congressman John Lewis
ATLANTA - More than 2,500 disability advocates and supporters are expected to attend the 17th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol rally hosted by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) on Thursday, March 5, at 11 am. Disability Day is among the largest public gatherings held each year when the Georgia General Assembly meets. Advocates travel from across the state to unite in support of legislation that will promote the independence, inclusion, productivity and self-determination of people with disabilities. The theme of this year’s event is “Fulfilling the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”
“It sends a powerful message to have the participation of so many advocates and supporters of disability rights at this Rally, as we mark 25 years since passage of the ADA,” said GCDD Executive Director Eric Jacobson. “Each year, Disability Day at the Capitol grows in size and scope. We are particularly honored to have Governor Deal return and we are very proud to have the authentic Civil Rights voice of Congressman John Lewis speak to us about Social Justice, as only he can.” Congressman Lewis shares his personal family connection to disabilities in an exclusive Disability Day message.
Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the Keynote address and present an ADA Commendation which recommits Georgia to reach full ADA compliance. Mark Johnson, National Chair of the ADA Legacy Project (www.adalegacy.com) and Shepherd Center Advocacy Director, will speak about Disability Rights as Civil Rights, including the ADA Legacy Tour and campaign to spread the ADA message, “preserve,” “educate” and “celebrate,” throughout the nation. Rev. Susannah Davis, Pastor of Kirkwood United Church of Christ, will lead the audience in recognition of “fallen soldiers,” members of Georgia’s disability community who died within the last year. GCDD chair, Mitzi Proffitt will emcee with Jacobson throughout the Rally program which ends at 12:30 PM
Award-winning guitarist and vocalist Joey Stuckey (www.joeystuckey.com), the official Music Ambassador of Macon, will perform three standard selections: Star Spangled Banner acappella, Georgia on My Mind and This Little Light of Mine. He has studied a range of music genres with many accomplished professors and renowned musicians, including jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan. Stuckey lost his eyesight and sense of smell as an infant as result of a brain tumor and he developed an early love of music from his mother’s enthusiasm for opera and his father’s penchant for country and western. In addition to performing and managing his recording studio, Shadow Sounds Productions, Stuckey teaches music, delivers motivational talks and advocates for access to music education for blind children. His new single, Blind Man Drivin’, will be released during a 10-day tour of the UK later this month.
Closing the program, Rally leaders will rouse the crowd with chants promoting the themes of the day as they march past the Capitol to the Freight Depot. One in five Americans lives with disabilities as an occurrence of birth, injury or longevity, representing one of the fastest growing socio-economic sectors in the country. Georgia has one million children and adults living with disabilities.
GCDD’s annual Disability Day at the Capitol is an opportunity for members of the disability community and their supporters to connect with each other, their elected officials and the broader community. This year’s focus on the ADA coincides with GCDD’s mission and legislative agenda for achieving inclusive communities, voting rights, access to education and jobs. GCDD’s 2015 legislative agenda includes:
- An Employment First policy in Georgia – promotes employment in the general workforce at or above minimum wage as the first option for individuals with disabilities.
- The Unlock the Waiting Lists! Campaign - advocates for community based services and supports for individuals with disabilities to live free in the community rather than reside in institutions. (www.unlockthewaitinglists.com)
- Children’s Freedom Initiative - works to bring children out of institutions and into the community in homes with loving families. (www.georgiacfi.org)
- Inclusive post-secondary education - provides opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to access higher education and social growth.
- The Family Care Act - allows flexibility for families to use their sick time to care for each other.
Disability Day activities begin at 9 am at the Georgia Freight Depot with t-shirt pick-up, sign-making, exhibits, including accessible voting machine demonstrations, and signature collection for the official ADA Pledge (www.adaanniversary.org/pledge) for those who want to sign-up to actively recommit to the fulfillment of the ADA. The GCDD Public Policy Team will offer Advocacy 101 training beginning at 9:30 am followed by visits to the Capitol to meet legislators. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit an ADA Exhibit in the Rotunda of the Capitol that will highlight the “preserve,” “educate,” and “celebrate” slogan of the National ADA Legacy Project and a table of source materials including current issues of GCDD’s quarterly news magazine, Making A Difference.
The 11 am Rally will take place in Liberty Plaza, the Capitol’s new “front door”, located at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
GCDD, a federally funded independent state agency, works to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. A developmental disability is a chronic mental and/or physical disability that occurs before age 22 and is expected to last a lifetime. Visit www.GCDD.org for more information.
Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director
Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
404-657-2122 (office) 404-801-7873 (mobile)
Follow Updates on Twitter at #GCDDAnnualDisabilityDay
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