Had been meaning to post about Endeavor Freedom for a while now.. This makes for the perfect opportunity to pass along a tad of their message.. If any of it proves of interest, drop a note and/or your resume to:
On June 22 of last year during brutal heat and sweltering sun, Georgia Advocates celebrated the sixth anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court Decision Olmstead v. LC & EW; in which all people with disabilities won The right to lives integrated in community with long term care services Delivered at home instead of an institutional setting.
In 1995, 47 year old, Elaine Wilson, characterized with a mild mental Disability and personality disorder, joined in a lawsuit filed by fellow Patient 31 year old, Lois Curtis. Curtis, who having been diagnosed With a mild mental disability and schizophrenia, had been Institutionalized for three years at Georgia Regional Hospital, a mental Health facility, before Atlanta Legal Aid lawyer Sue Jamieson, filed a Brief in federal court in Atlanta on their behalf. The case took on Immediate precedence as State’s lined up to oppose the right of people With disabilities to receive government long term care assistance to Remain in the community and receive services in our own homes. The Government and then Director of the Department of Human Resources in Atlanta, Tommy Olmstead claimed that the nursing home and institutional Facilities that the States have provided for end of life care and long Term disability placement were ‘sufficient’ environments to sustain People whom had acquired permanent life impairing disabilities even Though most were in no threat of imminent death because of their Disabilities.
On June 22, 1999, the spotlight shone on the Supreme Court as disability Advocates waited what was to become milestone decision – "To people with Disabilities, this case is as significant as /Brown v. Board of Education/ was to people of color," said Mark Johnson, advocacy Coordinator for the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. "When the ADA was Passed, it was a mandate for integration. Now we've got our state Challenging our right to integration." Cheers echoed through the nation As the U.S. Supreme Court sided with advocates, saying that to force Persons with disabilities into nursing homes -- or any institution -- Without creating alternatives, "constitutes a form of discrimination Based on disability prohibited by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act."
In 2004, Kate Gainer, organized the first ever Long Road Home, a 5^th Anniversary Celebration of the Olmstead decision to assess the ‘Integration mandate’ in Georgia as President Clinton had ordered all State Medicaid programs to draw up plans to comply with the Supreme Court decision. 5 years after the initial ruling Georgia remained in 45^th place out of the 50 in providing community-based services to its Long term care recipients. Georgia ADAPT has honored this landmark Decision every year since by organizing and marching for the annual "Long Road Home" campaign which demands our State comply with the Olmstead decision.
Last year we ended our campaign with a press conference at Kenny’s alley At the Underground in downtown Atlanta. The only problem was - none of The mainstream news channels or media sources showed up to be in Attendance to relay the importance of our story and why we were Celebrating this event. Lois Clark was even in attendance to address The crowd in support. That was when Valerie Suber, the media director For the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities asked loudly, “Where is the media and why do they continuously ignore our issues?” In That moment I conceived a thought, why continuously struggle to get Coverage from the mainstream news outlets when they mostly never show up To profile our issues, would it not be easier to create an independent Media site for people with disabilities, empowered by people with Disabilities with news stories and media specifically targeted for our Community.
It seemed to me that it would be an easier task to create an independent Media site than to convince corporate news outlets that our issues are Important. We as a group, as a community of people living on the Fringes of society, in the shadows of mainstream culture are largely Ignored, told that our lives are not worthy of equality, that there is No quality in living with a disability, and that we would be better off Dead. We know they are dead wrong and have been banging our heads Against the wall just to get some one to notice that we have things to Say; we feel, we hurt, we bleed!! We are human and we want our equal Rights no matter what your professional opinion thinks about our lives.
As advocates we spend so much time attempting to convince the mainstream Media that our issues affect everybody and are relevant to be reported On and yet even when they do cover our stories it is usually done in a Way that slants public opinion against us. So instead of spending all That time and effort into persuading corporate media to cover our Issues, I wrote a grant to the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities to start an independent media organization for people with Disabilities run by people with disabilities to be called EndeavorFreedom.tv.
Having had the grant approved, we are now on the cutting edge of moving into and creating something which can really benefit people with disabilities as a community whole and give us a mode for expression that is not controlled by minds and opinions that do not understand and even belittle our lives. It’s bad enough that we have to struggle to hold onto our individuality and our dignity when hard pressed by a historical legacy of warehousing people with disabilities and segregating us from mainstream society just because we function differently than most.
People with disabilities make-up 20% of the population and yet disability news, stories, and events make up less than 3% of what the corporate media reports on. If you happen to be in a minority with a disability you are represented even less, and if you are poor and a minority with a disability, then truly nothing in mainstream culture reflect your/our everyday experience of life. EndeavorFreedom.tv wants to change all that. We want to capture and relay the everyday stories of everyday struggle by everyday people with disabilities just trying to manage the American dream here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We want you to be the hero, the star, the story and we want you to share with us the stories that you consider news, issues which are important to you, that are rarely if ever seen on corporate news.
All of us are touched at some point and in some way by disability. Share with us how it is that disability affects you or some one you know. In order for us to make this project a success we are seeking the active participation of the entire disability community abroad. This will be your chance to write, shoot, direct, and edit your story and share it with us so that we can in turn share it with the world. Like the newly launched Current.tv or YouTube.com, we are empowering all people with disabilities to be the producer, editor, film director. Create, capture, and shoot the story that is important to you; share it with us and we’ll share it with the world.
EndeavorFreedom.tv also represents an opportunity for people with disabilities to become involved in media vocations which we as a community have been largely locked out of up until this point. We do have paid staff positions available to website developers, radio hosts, film editors, journalist, and camera personnel. We are also seeking creators of disability unique content and will pay accordingly. We envision expanding EndeavorFreedom.tv into the central hub for the disability community. If you are interested in being part of our project please contact me at the email above. We’ll start where we can and expand into all directions as time and space allows. We need the whole gamut of personnel with technical expertise on media, engineering, editing, filming, reporting, and hosting to make this project work. We are especially interested in bilingual personnel so that we can extend our reach to all communities of minorities with disabilities. We especially are seeking website developers with experience adapting websites to accommodate all accessibility issues as we want to insure the site for people with every kind of disability.
So, if you are or know of anybody that might be a good candidate for any of these positions, please invite them to submit their resume to ZenGarcia@alltel.net. We will be in contact soon and may invite you or them to join our staff. Even with our grant, initially we will focus on keeping paid staff to those areas of dire need, utilizing volunteer staff where we can to get things started. We will employ more paid staff positions as the site grows. As soon as the site is generating enough viewer interaction to solicit paid advertisers to site, we will further increase paid staff positions. Please consider joining us in this endeavor, we need your participation to make this a success.