female in a wheelchair with two children in a parklike setting on a concrete path

March is Women's History Month - and Women with Disabilities are a Vital Part of This History!

Women's History Month celebrates women, past and present, that have fought for their place in the world. For women with disabilities, not only have they had to fight against the patriarchy, but also against the oppression of those with disabilities. The history of the world is marked by all shapes and sizes of women. - MSU.edu/news, "Highlighting Women's Disability Figures in History"

Black and white photo of Fannie Lou Hamer, a black woman wearing a floral dress, sitting at a desk with hands crossed in front of her. Fannie Hamer is largely considered one of the most powerful voices of the civil and voting rights movements.

The social construct term "Intersectionality" was first coined decades ago, but only recently grown in understanding and use and entered into our daily lexicon.

The term, originally coined by American critical legal race scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989, was defined as "a metaphor for understanding the ways that multiple forms of inequality or disadvantage sometimes compound themselves and create obstacles that often are not understood among conventional ways of thinking." We've come to largely understand that these intersections occur vastly across differences in sex, race, age, disability, social-economic status and many other identities. In our world of disability rights, we see this daily.

So as we celebrate Women's History Month, we are narrowing in on the crossroads of women's history and disability history - many of whom share additional intersectionalities as well. Below are just a few women we have highlighted this month.

Black and white photo of Fannie Lou Hamer, a black woman wearing a dark dress, standing at a podium with a microphone at a meeting of  the Legal Defense Fund.

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) had polio as a child and would later be severely beaten in jail, leaving her with physical disabilities. She was also forcibly sterilized. Hamer was involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee, co-found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, helped organize the Freedom Summer of 1964 and 1971, and helped found the National Women's Political Caucus to fight for equality in civil rights.

More about Fannie Lou Hamer

black and white photo of Judy Heumann at a rally in Washington, advocating for the signing of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Judith Heumann (1947-2023), recognized as the "Mother of the Disability Rights Movement", was a leader in the development and implementation of disability rights legislation - including leading advocacy at the historic Section 504 Sit-In of 1977 (right), worked in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, was an advisor at the World Bank, and a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation. Her story is featured in the documentary Crip Camp, and in her book Being Heumann

More about Judy Heumann

Black and white photo of a Native American woman, Wilma Mankiller, seated in a dilapidated building in front of a concrete wall, wearing a full length dress.

Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010), was a Cherokee woman who lived with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. She was a prominent political activist for Indigenous peoples and worked for the Cherokee Nation, where she became the Deputy Chief. She was the first female principal chief and served 3 terms. Her efforts to revive the tribal Sequoyah High School and to found the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department. Early projects included a manufacturing plant in Stillwater, working for defense contractors, and associations with IBM. Her leadership resulted in a population increase of Cherokee Nation citizens from 55,000 to 196,000.

More about Wilma Mankiller

black and white photo of a white female, Annette Kellerman, wearing a wet suit and swim cap, coming out of the water onto a sandy beach

Annette Kellerman (1886-1975) was an Australian professional swimmer, film actress, writer, and business owner. She developed poliomyelitis as a young girl and used swimming as a form of rehabilitation. While swimming, Annette wore corrective leg braces. This did not slow her down though, as she swam cross-channel marathons, and in 1902 broke the existing world records for both the ladies’ 100 yard and mile swimming events, earning her the championship. She went on to win more awards in 1907. Annette was a pioneer in the understanding of creating publicity to her advantage and using media to promote change.

More about Annette Kellerman

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female sitting at a desk with a laptop computer open, engaging on a virtual meeting

Transit Driver Appreciation Week: March 18-24

What a great time to celebrate our community transit drivers!

We Love our Drivers!

March 6, a Driver's Appreciation Proclamation was read at the Douglas County Commission meeting and Dre'Vel Taylor, Mobility Manager for the City of Lawrence, accepted the Proclamation on behalf of local transit providers and drivers in attendance (pictured below).

March 18 was Transit Driver Appreciation Day, marking the start of National Transit Driver Appreciation week - an annual recognition and celebration of the vital public service transit operators provide. We recognize and are so thankful for, not only our own drivers here at Independence, Inc., but for all Transit Drivers who serve our communities.

Our Independence, Inc. Transportation Department co-hosted a Driver Appreciation Luncheon with the Douglas County Senior Resource Center, where drivers enjoyed a catered meal by Hy-Vee and time to share stories, meet staff and get swag from Explore Lawrence, and just have fun and relax.

Picture Left, Top to Bottom:

Independence, Inc. Public Transportation Fab Four drivers (Dean, Chip, Max, Larry) received certificates of recognition and appreciation.

Our hard-working Transportation Manager, LaNeece, sports an "Unmistakably Lawrence" tie dye bucket hat.

Local transit operators, managers and directors gather for a photo op at the Appreciation Day luncheon March 18 at the Senior Resource Center.

Drivers and staff enjoy drinks, deserts and a wonderful lunch catered by HyVee!

Below: LaNeece (middle) and other local transportation professionals received copies of the Transit Appreciation Day proclamation at City Hall, Lawrence.

Service Highlight: Independence, Inc. Accessible Transportation

Thinking outside of the box and creating local service partnerships, leads to meeting the needs of one local family facing a serious and unexpected transportation

It’s difficult to prepare for the unexpected and one local family learned this the hard way. Independence, Inc. Transportation Manager, LaNeece, was contacted by a community member whose 5-year-old grandson had just had surgery - leaving him with both of his legs in casts and using a wheelchair for mobility.

After contacting several other sources that were either unable to help, or didn’t respond, Pam Van Roekel reached out to Independence, Inc. for help.

Working together, she and our Transportation Manager were able to contact Dre’Vel Taylor, City of Lawrence Mobility Manager and Heide Briery, Director of Transportation Services for the Senior Resource Center, and together the team formulated a transportation plan to cover every ride back and forth to school until the casts came off. “Thank you so much!”, said Pam . “We are thrilled that Ryder can go back to school. We know how hard you all worked to put this together for us. Our grandson wants to go to school and this is the only way it will happen.”

Need a ride? Contact us!

The Independence, Inc. 2023 Annual Report is on the Press! Here's a Sneak Peek...

Funding will be used to Establish Kansas Youth Transition Network (KYTN) Councils to Facilitate Sustainable Systems Change for Youth With Disabilities and Create Seamless Transition Services

young girl with long reddish-brown hair, sits in a wheelchair and leans forward to snuggle a dog

The theme of our 2023 Annual Report, reflects the history of Independent Living and focuses on the primary constructs of the movement throughout the decades: Choice, Control, Freedom and Independence.

This report is a reflection of not only the steadfast and vital work done within our office and out in our communities, but more importantly, it's a reflection of the great need that still exists to remove barriers to independence, the work our consumers do to identify and work towards their independent living goals, and the support of our incredible donors and community partners. This is for you! To view our report in an interactive flipbook version, visit https://anyflip.com/iqxv/levi/

There's still a few days left to submit public comment on the State Plan for Independent Living

Infographic: yellow background with a sunflower and the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas logo

The Public Comment Period is open now through March 23rd, 2024 on the Draft State Plan for Independent Living for FY25 to FY27. Your voice can help shape the future of statewide services for people with disabilities.

"The Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas has the FFY25 to FFY27 State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) draft out for public comment at https://silck.org/ until March 23, 2024. All comments and questions go to [email protected]. Please put "Comments on Draft SPIL" in the subject line of the email.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, Section 704 (a)(5):

The State plan shall describe strategies for providing independent living services on a statewide basis, to the greatest extent possible.

Please share with your communities and stakeholders." - SILCK

UPDATE: Collaborative Effort Among Kansas Youth Services Organizations, Leads to Collective "Pathways to Partnership" Grant

Funding will be used to Establish Kansas Youth Transition Network (KYTN) Councils to Facilitate Sustainable Systems Change for Youth With Disabilities and Create Seamless Transition Services

adult female sits to the left of a student, both facing a computer screen. The adult female is pointing to something on screen.

Pictured above: adult female works with a student on job readiness and transitioning into competetive integrated employment.

Under the Pathways Grant, Independence, Inc. and partner organizations, will develop local networks (called KYTN Councils) of youth with disabilities, their families, youth service organizations and employers to facilitate systems change focused on expanding and enhancing the transition service system in the state of Kansas, to foster more positive, meaningful and streamlined transition and employment outcomes.

The grant-funded program will serve youth and young adults with disabilities ages 10 to 24 over a 5 year period and provide funding for the development of pilot transition sites across the State of Kansas, supporting youth with disabilities and their families in the transition process.

Independence, Inc., in collaboration with the Kansas Department of Education, Kansas Rehabilitation Services, and other community service providers, has been approved for the U.S Department of Education "Pathways to Partnerships" Grant.

Funding for the grant will come from the Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) Program to uphold Title 29 U.S.C chapter 16, section 705(5) of the Rehabilitation of Act in "supporting innovative activities aimed at increasing competitive integrated employment (CIE) for youth and other individuals with disabilities." [source: Rehabilitation Services Administration: Disability Innovation Fund - Pathways to Partnerships]

"Providers across the state came together to write and submit the grant proposal with the three key required partners (listed above). Evan Dean with the KU Center on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Kansas played a key role in writing the grant response and providing technical assistance" said Jill Dudley, Independence, Inc. Executive Director. "Eight other Centers for Independent Living across Kansas were also important contributors in the process".