We recently spoke with a number of local people with disabilities to ask them what it means to have a good quality of life.
Even though their disabilities ranged from spinal cord injuries to blindness, and congenital disorders to brain injures, their answers were pretty similar – and were the same that you or I might give.
Being active, social and connected; having a good place to live; having a good job; and being able to rely on accessible transportation topped their list.
MAYBE IT SHOULD have been surprising, but it wasn’t. After all, life doesn’t stop when you have a disability. While Augusta is blessed to have wonderful medical facilities to provide care immediately after a life-changing accident or injury, it’s clear from talking to these folks that our region can – and should – continue to challenge itself to make meaningful changes to improve the ongoing quality of life for many in our community.
That’s where organizations such as the Walton Foundation for Independence and others in this area can help. Our mission is to inspire philanthropy to support programs and services that create inclusive lifestyles for people with disabilities in our community to live, work and play. Since 1998, the Walton Foundation has:
• sponsored sports and leisure activities such as golf, tennis and Camp TBI, our annual camp for children and young adults with traumatic brain injuries;
• developed affordable and accessible housing through Walton Community Services;
• promoted a day program offering excursions and social activities (through WCS);
• offered a helping hand to those in need after hospital discharges to help them regain independence at home, work or play;
• supported the work of the many other fine local nonprofits, such as Walton Options for Independent Living, who provide help, hope and services to people with disabilities.
THE NEED, HOWEVER, is still great. We see it in the long waiting lists of those with disabilities who need access to housing, or who are waiting for home modifications such as wheelchair ramps or assistive technology. This year, we had the most participants ever in activities such as our adaptive golf tournament, our wheelchair tennis championship and Camp TBI – but our ability to make meaningful changes is directly related to the support we receive.
That’s where your support is needed. Together, let’s make 2014 a year in which those with disabilities in this area can look back and say: What a difference – a year in which people with disabilities have more access, more community support and better care than ever before!
Whether you remember us in your will or give a gift now, let’s close out this year with a heartfelt gift that makes a real difference in real people’s lives.
(The writer is the president and chief executive officer of the Walton Foundation for Independence.)