Metro Councilor Is Disabled For A Day

04/03/11  Portland, Ore.

OHSU, Metro partner with City of Cornelius to help kids with disabilities achieve independence.

WHAT:    Metro Councilor Robert Liberty will tour the City of Cornelius via wheelchair wearing special goggles to simulate visual impairment as of means raising awareness of the challenges people with disabilities encounter every day. Liberty was invited to take the tour by Cornelius mom Consuelo Arauza. Arauza’s son, Juan, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility.

The tour caps a year-long “Community Engagement Process” initiated by Oregon Health & Science University’s LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) Program. The program, part of the OHSU Child Development and Rehabilitation Center, aims to identify and remove obstacles to independence for children with disabilities.
   
WHEN:    Friday, March 30, 2 p.m.

WHERE:    Cornelius City Hall, 107 N. 14th Ave.

DETAILS:    In March 2006 OHSU’s LEND Program initiated a Community Engagement Process with the City of Cornelius to help families whose children have disabilities identify multiple needs. City officials, service providers and community leaders participated in the process.
 
The purpose of the engagement process is to help families whose children have disabilities identify the strengths and challenges they encounter in health, education, transportation, recreation and public places, among others.

Once obstacles are identified, the LEND Program provides support to the community based on the priorities identified by the families, for example, parent training on how to discipline children with disabilities, developing bilingual resources books on disabilities, and facilitating the creation of a parent support group.

In Cornelius, LEND is supporting a committee created by local parents as a result of the Community Engagement Process. The committee, dubbed Committee for a Vision for an Accessible Community, has chosen lack of sidewalks, including and within parks, as the first item on its agenda.

“Lack of sidewalks is particularly problematic as parents are motivating their children to be independent. Lack of access around Cornelius is an obstacle to that goal,” said Claudia Vargas, Ph.D., LEND Program coordinator for the Community Engagement Process. Vargas also is an adjunct associate professor of pediatrics, Oregon Institute on Disability and Development, OHSU School of Medicine, OHSU CDRC.

The City of Cornelius has applied for and received a grant from Metro to upgrade its main street with a variety of roadside improvements, including sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. The work will take place during the next couple of years.

“Making sure that all residents of this region have safe, affordable ad efficient ways to get around is a primary goal of our entire transportation system,” said Councilor Liberty. “And the grant that the Metro Council awarded the City of Cornelius to upgrade its town center will go a along way toward achieving that goal.”

CDRC

The CDRC at OHSU ensures that Oregonians with developmental disabilities and other chronic disabling conditions are identified and receive exemplary services through programs of public health, clinical service, education and research. The CDRC has offices and clinical staff in Portland and Eugene. Outreach clinics are offered in numerous other Oregon communities. For more information, visit, www.ohsu.edu/outreach/cdrc/

ROBERT LIBERTY

Robert Liberty is a resident of the Richmond neighborhood in Portland. He was elected to the Metro Council in November 2004 to represent District 6. His interests as Metro Councilor include promoting redevelopment in town centers and along main streets, increasing transportation and housing choices, conserving natural areas inside and outside the urban growth boundary and giving citizens a stronger role in the regional planning decisions affecting our future. For more information on Robert Liberty, visit www.metro-region.org/article.cfm?articleID=12542