On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ensuring the civil rights of people with disabilities.
Jamie Folweiler wanted to remind everyone of the importance of that legislation, which established a clear and comprehensive national mandate against individuals who are disabled.
Folweiler, who is wheelchair bound after being born with spina bifida, has been an activist for the rights of the disabled. He approached Tamaqua Mayor Christian Morrison about recognizing the 20th anniversary of the ADA.
Monday marked 20 years since the ADA was implemented, and Morrison read a proclamation of the borough's recommitment to fully implementing the act at a ceremony held at the Tamaqua train station.
Also joining Morrison and Folweiler were Dorey Moll and Karri Garber of Tamaqua, two disabled individuals in wheelchairs. Jeff Faust, chairman of the East Brunswick Township Board of Supervisors and the Democratic candidate for state representative for the 124th District, was also in attendance.
Morrison mentioned that his niece Abigail is wheelchair-bound due to cerebral palsy and stressed the importance of protecting the rights and providing equal access for disabled individuals.
"It's something that we don't think about on a daily basis, unless it directly affects us," said Morrison, in issuing the proclamation. "All people were created equally, and every person wants the same things."
Morrison thanked Folweiler for fighting to make sure everyone has the same opportunities, regardless of whether they are disabled or not.
"The ADA has expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing barriers and changing perceptions, increasing full participation in community life," read the Tamaqua proclamation. "However, the full promise of the ADA will only be reached if public entities remain committed in their efforts to fully implement the ADA.
"On the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we, the Borough of Tamaqua, celebrate and recognize the progress that has been made by reaffirming the principals of equality and inclusion and recommitting our efforts to reach full ADA compliance."
Morrison concluded by stating that he hoped in another 20 years, there will be even more opportunities and benefits available to those who are disabled.