- Spring, 2013 Edition -
Table of Content:
Just what exactly is independent living? It means different things to everyone. No matter your definition of independent living, it will almost always involve the individual being in various locations at various times for various reasons.
Everyone, people with disabilities and without, needs to travel at times: to work, to do errands, to have fun, to have a social life, and for many other reasons. The Washington Metropolitan area is an area that is fortunate to have a great public transit system. That is one reason ECNV is proud to have a Travel Training Program. It has been in place since 2010 and is sponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
The ECNV Travel Training Program is for people with disabilities and/or older adults who want to learn to travel independently using public transportation in the Washington Metropolitan area. It is a multi-day, comprehensive, individualized program and trainees learn various travel skills that will enable them to utilize transportation.
Travel Trainers will work with you individually until you are confident and proficient in your travel skills and you feel comfortable that you have learned the best transit routes to travel to the places you want to go in the area.
The ECNV Travel Training Program has two full-time Travel Trainers. Rick Luckett who can be reached at 703-525-3268 (office), 703-835-4265 (cell), or firstname.lastname@example.org and Selvin Garcia who can be reached at 703-525-3268 (office), 703-835-3907 (cell), or email@example.com (Selvin is fluent en Español and English) and you can get in touch with either of them to start the Travel Training process.
They will set up an appointment to come out to your house or to a place of your choosing to discuss your travel skills and goals; then starting from your first appointment, the actual Travel Training will last until you are able to travel safely and independently to your destination.
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Starting with this issue of the Declaration, we are going to try to focus on a specific program in each issue. We are also going to try to include an interview with someone who is knowledgeable on the given issue.
We decided to start with Travel Training and the person we interviewed was Glen Finland. Ms. Finland is the successful author of Next Stop, which deals, in part, with teaching her son to travel independently.
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ECNV is a Center for Independent Living (CIL) so we offer programs and services designed to increase the independence of people with disabilities. Independence is often something that is taken for granted by many people. It doesn’t necessarily mean being able to do things by yourself, but it means that you are the decision-maker for your life.
One of the things that has a great impact on your life is your ability to travel independently. That is why ECNV is proud to offer, among our other programs, a Travel Training Program sponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
ECNV’s Travel Training Program began in 2010 to help people with disabilities and older adults to learn to travel on public transportation in the Washington area. In it, the Travel Trainers, Rick and Selvin (whose contact information is on the previous page) will work with an individual to learn travel skills including, identifying transportation options, reading maps and schedules, planning for emergencies, and more. The Travel Trainer will work with you until you are confident in each travel skill and are able to travel safely and independently.
Best of all, there is no cost! So get in touch with Rick or Selvin to begin your journey to independence.
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A big part of independence can come from being able to travel on one’s own. Remember when you, or someone close to you, got their driver’s license. They were probably ecstatic and thought they owned the world because they could travel independently. As Glen Finland, author of Next Stop who is interviewed in this issue of the Declaration, quoted her children as saying when they began to travel independently, “I’m the boss of me now!”
A few years ago, ECNV started a Travel Training Program sponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Currently, ECNV has a total of 79 people signed up to participate. This represents a noteworthy savings for WMATA enabling them to put more money toward other aspects of the system. According to WMATA, the projected annual savings for paratransit was $1176 per person trained by this project for each year they continue independent travel. That’s significant.
Traveling independently is vital to employment and being a part of the community. All of us at ECNV believe that the freedom to participate in all aspects of society is critical to our work as we pursue equality for people with disabilities.
ECNV is grateful to have a partner in WMATA and we appreciate their support. Independence helps us all!
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Kathy Adams grew up near Mount Vernon and graduated with a degree in Psychology from Mary Washington University. She married a Marine and they have two children Brent (15) and Claire (13), the latter of which is diagnosed with Autism.
Kathy was employed as a Habilitation Specialist/Teacher at Howell’s Center River Bend in New Bern, NC where she worked with severe/profound children.
ECNV welcomes Kathy aboard!
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LEND has been busy collaborating with other nonprofits and agencies to promote independent living in Loudoun County. Outreach and input with businesses and the County, especially on Accessibility, Transportation, and Housing, has led to more requests from Countywide.
“Working with Personal Care Assistants” in April, “Working with Healthcare Coordinators” in May, “Finding the Money” in August, and “Navigating Community Resources” in September. Contact LEND for more information.
Hope you can join us!
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Glen Finland is the author if the author of Next Stop. A Penguin Book Club Pick for Nat’l Disability Employment Awareness Month (Oct. 2012). It is about learning to let go of her 21 year-old son with autism, David, and one aspect of that is learning to travel on his own. Recently she sat down with ECNV and talked about Travel Training, independence, and civil rights. What follows are excerpts; the full interview will be on our website.
ECNV: What could be the main desire to make someone want to learn to travel independently?
Glen Finland: I can sum that up in one word: freedom. Imagine the freedom from your first set of wheels. It may be Metro, a scooter or a car, just to start moving forward, going wherever you want to go, living your own life; it’s a tremendous triumph.
ECNV: Is getting a job and being able to get to work independently a motivation factor for your son?
GF: Absolutely. All David wants is to be is a regular guy, and mastering travel training gave him the opportunity to become independent, to further realize his dream. I think that the biggest agent of change in my son’s life was the day he got his first Metro card. Despite all of the therapy and all of the Special Olympics games and every doctor, the thing that changed his life the most was that Metro pass.
ECNV: Do you have any advice for people learning to travel independently or teach others to do so?
GF: Yes. Study Metro maps. David and I would go on the Internet and study the map. Seeing him board a train and seeing the train go away was tough. But I knew if I didn’t do it, I would be going on the Metro with him forever.
ECNV: How important is repetition?
GF: Repetition is the key and to do it side by side with your loved one until you feel confident, or he or she feels confident enough to go it alone.
ECNV: What did you think were some of the tricky parts of learning about to travel independently?
GF: For David, the mathematics involved, the actual changing of the money was difficult; there was lots of work before he got on a bus or a train to figure out how much it would cost and have his money ready.
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