United Spinal Association and approximately 200 advocates from across the country gathered virtually on June 14-16 for the 2021 Roll on Capitol Hill, meeting with their representatives in Congress to ensure that people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) are included in shaping disability policies.
Roll on Capitol Hill provides United Spinal members a platform to amplify their voices on issues that impact their health and independence, share their experiences as wheelchair users, and be proactive in advocating for disability rights at both the state and national level.
“We need events like Roll on Capitol Hill, more than ever. The stories we tell about being able to land our dream job, move to our dream cities, and live truly independent lives, or proudly roll across the stage at graduation, continue to be matched by those who remain underserved by our society. There’s so much work to be done.”
— Vincenzo Piscopo, United Spinal’s president and CEO
This year, with 200 virtual Congressional office visits completed in one day, Roll on Capitol Hill attendees advanced key issues in meetings with their Congressional representatives, including:
- Accessible, affordable, adoptable, secure and reliable broadband that works for everyone, including people with disabilities.
- Greater access to transportation so that people with disabilities can be active within their communities and maintain their health and independence.
- Greater access to telehealth and critical coverage of home- and community-based services.
- Improved access to caregiving supports for veterans and expanded health care eligibility for veterans living with toxic exposure illnesses, now and in the future.
- Increased funding for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Model Systems which provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary system of care, research, and resources for people with SCI.
In advance of Roll on Capitol Hill, members attended a training session where they learned more about United Spinal’s policy priorities from experienced disability advocates and Congressional staffers.
On the afternoon of June 16th, United Spinal hosted a Congressional and Corporate Advisory Council Reception to recognize individuals dedicated to strengthening disability rights and inclusion. Awardees included:
- Natalie Barnhard – 2021 Finn Bullers Advocate of the Year Award
- U.S. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas – 2021 James J. Peters Distinguished Veterans Legislator Award
- U.S. Representative Dina Titus of Nevada – 2021 United Spinal Outstanding Congressional Leadership Award
“This award is such an honor because I’m able to bring awareness to the changes I am working hard to make here in my community. As an advocate I hope to make lasting changes for people who live with SCI/D with their physical recovery and create a better quality of life for everyone through physical rehabilitation, accessibility, care, and support.”
— Natalie Barnhard
The reception also commemorated United Spinal’s 75th Anniversary and its mission to build an inclusive world that empowers all people with disabilities. United Spinal highlighted the impact of its programs and services and recognized the vital support of its corporate partners, which make a substantial difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities, their families, friends, and caregivers.
“Thank you for letting me know my voice matters. This is such a cool organization and I hope this is just the first of many years that I can be a part of Roll on Capitol Hill. I’m excited.”
— Davita Carter, a grassroots advocate from Illinois
For additional information about the public policies that United Spinal addressed at Roll on Capitol Hill, visit United Spinal Association.
[Source(s): United Spinal Association, PR Newswire]