2017-08-02 / Front Page

Assembly Member Weprin Joins Mayor For Salute To Disabled New Yorkers

By Dr. Dan Miller and Joyce Vetere
“Tonight is the 27th anniversary of the ADA a law that has changed how people look at and treat individuals with disabilities.” Mayor Di Blasio called the ADA, “one of the first pieces of civil rights legislation in this country.”Photo Dan Miller/DMD IMAGES“Tonight is the 27th anniversary of the ADA a law that has changed how people look at and treat individuals with disabilities.” Mayor Di Blasio called the ADA, “one of the first pieces of civil rights legislation in this country.”Photo Dan Miller/DMD IMAGESOn Wednesday evening July, 26 New York State Assembly member David Weprin joined Mayor Di Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray for the naming of the winners of the 2017 Sapolin awards for individuals, organizations or businesses who have done outstanding work on behalf of the disabled.

The mayor selected the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make the award announcements. The commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities assisted Mayor Di Blasio to announce the five winners of this year’s ADA Sapolin award, named in memory of Theodore Sapolin, former commissioner of the Mayor’s office For People With Disabilities who suddenly passed away a few years ago.

“This is a city that champions inclusivity, accessibility and equality,” said current Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office on Disabilities Calise, as hundreds of guests gathered under the big white tent on the lawn of Gracie Mansion to hear the mayor and commissioner Calise announce the winners of this year’s ADA Sapolin Awards.

“Tonight is the 27th anniversary of the ADA a law that has changed how people look at and treat individuals with disabilities.” Mayor Di Blasio called the ADA, “one of the first pieces of civil rights legislation in this country.”

While walking the grounds prior to the formal awards ceremony we met a few Queens residents who were invited to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the ADA and this year’s award recipiennts.

Kwardi Johnson (Long Island City), Jessica Tambor (Whitestone) and Laura Anne Walker from Corona were enjoying the luncheon provided for this important event. 

Prior to the mayor’s speech and the official awards ceremony we caught uo with New York State Assembly member David Weprin(Queens) who spoke about the law and how it has change the shape of how the world now looks at individuals with disabilities. He introduced us to the commissioner of the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, who spoke to the Gazette about legislation she supported passes by the New York City Council and that was co-sponsored by Assemblyman Weprin and  passed by both houses of the New York State Legislature that would  provide that half of the yellow cabs in New York City to be Handicap. Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi said ”we already passed a mandate to make 50 percent of yellow cabs accessible by 2020 and 30 percent of the green taxis as well.” Yellow cabs run in Manhattan with the green cabs running in the outer boroughs, including Queens. “We have launched a dispatch program where customers can all an app to order a ride, added commissioner Joshi. She added that it is actually less expensive for the city for individuals with disabilities to take a yellow or green cab as their transportation mode as compared to Access-A-Ride, which has had many individuals with disabilities fuming over the long waits, no shows and hours to get somewhere, like a doctor’s office. Some have waited in hot stuffed vans for hours to take a trip that would normally take a few minutes by taxi. This is something that the Taxi and Limousine commissioner has looked into to and hopefully there will be changes to make a ride for an individual with disabilities a more humane one.

Others the Gazette had a chance to talk with at Gracie Mansion were Richard Brody, Executive Director of  equestrian.org a local program for blind and kids with other disabilities to learn to ride horses to help improve their equilibrium and balance. The power of horse play seems to help many of his students calm down and learn skills they never new that owned before. The program used to be run in Forest Park in Queens and now has found a new home in Van Cortland Park. Parents of children with disabilities may learn more about their programs for children with disabilities can visit their web site at www.equestra.org.

Todd Magazine, the president of Blink Fitness received one of the Sapolin Awards and told the Gazette, “Blink fitness specializes in caring for the needs of individuals with disabilities. Our trianers have been trained to work with special needs children and adults.”

For more information, visit www.blinkfitness.com


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