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ThanksToTheADA

The ADA’s 31st Anniversary

Today, July 26th, is the Americans with Disabilities Act 31st Anniversary. MRI is proud to provide services that support the ADA and excited to celebrate 31 years of having the ADA in place!

MRI works to reflect the ADA’s mission into our own. Meaningful Meadows, employment programs, community participation programs, and transportation services are a few prime examples of how accessibility for ALL has been achieved by MRI for the past 33 years.

Meaningful Meadows is one of the first outdoor activity centers in Illinois that was created to be accessible for adults with disabilities while also offering recreational exercise, relaxation, and sensory learning. Our facility’s park includes wheelchair-accessible swings, a smooth concrete walking path, along with a sensory garden, waterfall, splash pad, mini-golf, and musical chimes. Meaningful Meadows is a symbol of inclusivity and accessibility for ALL.

The objective of the ADA’s movement was to tear down the societal ableism that separated people with disabilities from society. Before the ADA, the societal attitude was that those with disabilities were not capable of being active members of society. However, there was little effort to even make a meaningful life accessible for ALL citizens. The lack of accessibility for people with disabilities to be active members in their community resulted in segregation and prevented them from the same quality of life granted to other American citizens.

Thanks to the ADA, accessible transportation throughout the community and equal employment opportunities is the mode for people with disabilities to reach their highest potential and have a meaningful quality of life. 

MRI’s services ensure that our persons served build meaningful lives and reach their highest potential. Our CAPS (Community Awareness Possibilities & Support) program is centered around the connection and involvement of persons served with the community and provides opportunities for community members to interact with them. CAPS daily activities includes volunteer work with organizations such as Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, and the Northeast Community Fund. Additionally, CAPS visits museums, nature reserves, learns about different cultures and explores what the community has to offer.

Paired with this, MRI helps with many aspects of the employment process and assists in securing jobs for persons served both in the community and within MRI. In fact, this is one of the longest-standing services of the agency. Job training and community employment services has been available to the community since 1969, when Macon County Rehabilitation Facilities (MCRF) opened their doors. It was around this time that the movement leading up to the ADA began. Organizations similar to MCRF (later MRI) started arguing for legislative and policy changes to better provide work and rehabilitation services for people with disabilities.

Thanks to the ADA and the enactment of the ADAAA (the ADA Amendments Act of 2008), people with disabilities are now protected from societal discrimination and fully offered equal opportunity employment. Through MRI’s employment services, we uphold the ADA by ensuring that adults with developmental disabilities have access to equal employment opportunities and discovering all they are capable of.

However, community employment and the persons’ served presence in the community wouldn’t be possible without MRI’s fleet of 60+ fully accessible transportation vehicles. The opportunities of where they can go and what they can learn and discover in the community are endless! These vehicles transport persons served to community employment, Jan Pro’s 4 rest areas, shopping, CAPS outings, community events, appointments, and safely back home to 10 community group homes.

The availability of recreational/physical activity, community involvement, equal employment, accessible transportation, and most of all the chance to build a meaningful life are the equal opportunities that America committed to fulfill for ALL of its citizens on July 26th, 1990.

We are proud to celebrate the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act!