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DD Council Member Spotlight: Carol Cross

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Carol Cross and her daughter

 

As a parent of a daughter with physical disabilities, I spend a good amount of time advocating for her. We almost daily meet with challenges for accessibility into public spaces and have a hard time finding activities that are adapted enough to make them available to her. Two examples that illustrate this:

A few years ago, we wanted to volunteer to help women who did not use English as their native language to better their English conversational skills. We signed up for the training but when we got there, the training site was not accessible for my daughter’s power wheelchair. Apologies were given but we returned home and felt bad that, because of my daughter’s wheelchair, we were turned away from volunteering. 

Another example concerns a shop where we take our accessible van for work. The parking lot had a bad location for the handicap parking, causing my daughter to drive out of the van into oncoming traffic. Speaking with the manager, I suggested an alternative space and some other ways to improve the accessibility. A year later we went back for another appointment and found that all my suggestions had been made! That felt great. I know that what we face is not uncommon to others with disabilities in Iowa. Being on the DD Council means a lot to me as I continue to be a voice for not only my daughter but also for other individuals with disabilities.   

My favorite part about being on the Council is networking with others across the state who are working to help make their communities better for individuals with disabilities. Hearing about initiatives and programs inspires me to advocate in my own community even more. I especially like to hear from the self-advocates on the Council. Their hopes and dreams echo my own daughter’s hopes and dreams. Because of my daughter’s physical disabilities, she has some communication limitations. Hearing the thoughts and aspirations of the self-advocates is enlightening and helpful in many ways.

Several years ago, my youngest daughter and I started a 501(c)(3) adapted sports program called the Cedar Rapids Power Soccer Association. We are the only program that I’m aware of in eastern Iowa for individuals using power wheelchairs. What started as an activity for my daughter turned into a wonderful experience for others as well. Without any kind of background or training, I was hesitant to start a 501(c)(3) nonprofit sports program! But going out of my comfort zone and creating something where a need was clearly present has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. If you know someone in eastern Iowa who uses a power wheelchair, let them know about us (we are on Facebook)!