Story by Amina Donna Kruck
I sit here surrounded by boxes I’ve brought home from Ability360 after 27 years of advocacy-related work: photos and documents from the past and materials to support my future advocacy endeavors. As I transition to retirement from full time work, I reflect on all the amazing people I have been privileged to work with over the years and all our community efforts to improve the lives of Arizonans with disabilities.
I feel blessed and frankly divinely guided to this work which used my inborn core passion for justice and advocacy more than my formal education. I joined Ability360 in 1990 acutely aware of how disability oppression or ableism had affected my life and others. I was committed to peer support and education as a path to empowerment. I was totally unaware of the recent passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which I learned about shortly after my arrival. Thank you Justin Dart and Susan Webb for fostering my leadership!
As a child I had a deep desire to make the world a better place and was moved by the injustice I saw around, the civil rights movement and oppression of African Americans, Latino and LGBTQ people. I feel grateful for the opportunity to remove systemic barriers, change policies and laws, share how oppression and ableism works and impacts our lives.
I’ve done none of this alone, but rather with disabled and non-disabled allies working together to find solutions, showing up together to advocate for change, learning from each other and spurring each other on to living more fully and empowered. It has been a great adventure which I share with many I have never met personally, but who came before me to start up the Independent Living movement and to advocate for the passage of the ADA in 1990 and the Ticket to Work and Work Improvement Act of 1999 and other important disability legislation.
It is only natural now that part of my transition would be to work part-time as the facilitator for the Community Leadership Academy. This course helps people be prepared to participate as disability advocates and leaders in community based non-profit boards and government councils, commissions and advisory committees. This six-week course is being taught at all five Centers for Independent Living across the state in order to foster more disability advocates in all areas of interest and life.
For a long time we have lagged taking on leadership in our community. We are a diverse “minority” that is comprised of all religions, ethnicities, geographies, economic circumstances, political parties, beliefs and interests. We are a slice of the American Pie and we need to grow up take our rightful place in the leadership of our communities and the country. ADAPT demonstrated leadership during the healthcare debate a few months ago by gaining national attention demonstrating in the halls of Congress to draw attention to the terrible consequences of those healthcare bills on people with disabilities.
Our fight for justice and equality is nowhere near done, my friends; there are threats in Congress to scale back our protections under the ADA (H.R. 620). Arizona’s legislative session starts on January 8th. State legislative and congressional seats will be elected in the fall. We are ALL needed to contribute in whatever way we can. Your local Centers will be teaching legislative advocacy skills. Consider yourself invited.
Amina Donna Kruck
Amina Kruck is a Licensed Counselor with a master’s of Counseling from ASU. She empowers individuals with disabilities and their families through advocacy related workshops, one-on-one mentoring, facilitating wellness groups, providing technical assistance for the development of consumer-driven initiatives, and developing community partnerships to address barriers to consumer choice, equal rights and self-determination. Kruck also provides workshops on the legislative process, disability oppression and self-advocacy skills.