Friday, April 24, 2009

Edmunds' Accessibility, Once Again

Michael Wood-Lewis, about whom I wrote in a Seven Days article in March, is organizing support to make Burlington's Edmunds school complex accessible to children and residents with mobility issues. Edmunds, as I noted in the article, is much more than a school: it's a central voting site and holds First Night events, for example. Wood-Lewis likes to describe the building as the most prominent school in Vermont, by which he means it's both one of the most-used schools by members of the public and also one of the community's most identifiable buildings because of its location on Main Street in Vermont's biggest city.

Check out Wood-Lewis' site here.

And consider lending support to this effort. Also, why stop at Edmunds? Think about which other schools or public buildings in your community fall short of allowing access to everyone.

Here's a bit of Wood-Lewis' recent email about his campaign, in which he urges residents to attend an April 28 school board committee meeting at 7 pm at the Ira Allen Building:

Did you know that Burlington schools are segregated? Kids in wheelchairs are not allowed to go to Edmunds. Nor can parents or grandparents with mobility impairments get into the building to visit their children's classrooms. A teacher who now needs a cane? She's unlikely to keep a job there. The students who break legs snowboarding? They'll be out of school or stuck in the library for weeks. Community members who use wheelchairs? They know they are not welcome to partake in the daily use of the building for drama, sports, clubs, meetings, First Night, voting, etc.

We can change all this right now. We can make Edmunds, which is the most prominent public school building in the entire state, accessible to all of us.

A group of a dozen parents, students and supporting professionals are working on this big challenge and WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW. Our community must convince the school board that making Edmunds accessible is a top priority, and we also must convince the Governor and Vermont legislature to support this project with federal stimulus funds. Details:

We came to this work through our nine-year-old son, Ben, who uses a wheelchair and faces a big set-back to his education and support structure if he's not allowed to attend Edmunds Middle School with his friends in two years. As we've learned more about this situation, we're amazed by how many people in our community are effected by Edmunds' lack of accessibility.

Please check his site for more details.