LSA Blog

Opportunity Requires Freedom – A Reflection on Why We Celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
by William J. Nolan, Executive Director, KenCrest Centers

Sometimes I think of KenCrest as a large classroom spread across three states. Like all the agencies of Lutheran Services in America, many thousands of dedicated staff and the people we (LSA) support in vibrant and enthusiastic relationship are confronted each day with opportunities to bring their unique talents and abilities to life. No fixed roles: sometimes teachers, sometime students moving together, all building toward positive goals. A boisterous community lab-setting, full of experimentation with no graduation day in sight. 

Opportunity brings this ability to life and freedom is the necessary ingredient for that opportunity to exist. On July 26, 2015, we celebrate a significant step in the march toward greater freedom for all people. Passage of the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA) 25 years ago has had ripples that reach all of us. Obvious and physical, of course - my mother loved the lowered curbs as she marched through Manhattan, and later, accessibility and public access to a wheelchair when she wasn't quite so vigorous.

We all can see ramps and grab bars and the best parking spaces at the mall. Harder to see, and feel, is that part of ADA that offered dignity and value, that opened pathways to the world of work. The parts of the Act that let so many folks join the rest of us into our corporate and community careers and vocations. The good feelings that came from making a difference and having a bit more financial independence.  

Opportunity needs freedom. We have been freed through Good News of our faith. We celebrate our freedom with Declaration of Independence fireworks and the Constitution, which challenges us to form "a more perfect union." Celebrate the anniversary of the Americans for Disability Act - it is a positive step in that direction.

Bill Nolan, Executive Director of KenCrest Centers, has been a driving force with the LSA Disability Network since its beginning, and will be retiring later this year. We expect him to continue to be involved in Lutheran social ministry works for a long time to come!

KenCrest, one of the Delaware Valley’s largest community-based providers of services to people with intellectual disabilities and autism will mark its 110th year of uninterrupted service in June 2015.  They offer a variety of services in six counties in Pennsylvania: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, as well as in Delaware and Connecticut. 

Photo caption: Bill Nolan represents the LSA-DN network at the White House with Mark Hagen , Corporate Director of Public Policy at Bethesda Institute and member of the LSA-DN Policy & Advocacy Team (PAT), and (former) White House Disability Liaison Taryn Williams 

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