A Day to Celebrate?

Jan 20, 2014
Tagged with: A Day to Celebrate?

As we celebrate the man who was instrumental in writing the Civil Rights Act, which was signed in 1964 to benefit all Americans, there is still one group of citizens who are waiting for this act to benefit them. These are the 56 million Americans with disabilities who are still on the waiting list to participate in a US society that they call home.

Now, I know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, to support the rights of all citizens with disabilities in regards to employment and access. However, the one act that always seems to be overlooked is the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. On January 24, 2013, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Dear Colleague Letter clarifying school’s obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to provide extracurricular athletic opportunities for students with disabilities. The guidance creates a clear roadmap for how schools can integrate students with disabilities into mainstream athletic programs and create adapted programs for students with disabilities. The release of the Dear Colleague letter is merely further guidance on what should already be happening for students with disabilities stemming from section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act states that “no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under” any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance.

What is so important about Section 504 is that of the 56 million Americans with disabilities, a great many of these Americans are kids and youth with disabilities. Isn’t the future leadership and direction of our country from our kids and youth?  While our society and schools wait to provide mainstream athletic programs and to create adapted programs for many students with disabilities, so the youth of this country wait as well. They wait for equal education, they wait for athletic opportunities, and they wait for a society that says it has civil rights for all. While they continue to wait another generation loses out on educational opportunities. Another generation loses out on an opportunity for a healthy active lifestyle. Another generation loses out on grasping a principle in this country that we hold dear, freedom. Our kids lose the freedom to have physical education and sport opportunities without barriers and access. All of this waiting can hinder one of the most endearing qualities of our youth, which is to dream. Isn’t the ability to dream one of reason why we celebrate this day? What are we waiting for? Isn’t the future now?

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Author: Bob Lujano

  • Elizabeth Vander Kamp

    Bob, thank you for honoring this day and how far we have come and how much farther we have to go to include everyone. Yes, the future is here and let’s make it bright!

  • bobl07

    The work that you do and other organizations are a perfect example of the benefits of a healthy active lifestyle. It is so important that the opportunities expand to everyone, especially our youth. No doubt your efforts go a long way in making a bright future. Continued success.