ADA celebration features Paralympian Zimmerman

A Twin Cities native who competed in two Paralympics will be a featured speaker at Minnesota’s celebration of the 22nd […]

A Twin Cities native who competed in two Paralympics will be a featured speaker at Minnesota’s celebration of the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Dana Zimmerman now teaches physical education and adapted physical education in the River Falls, WI school system. He is also a motivational speaker who draws on his own experiences to inspire others.

The event is 1-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26 at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach- Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N., Minneapolis. The event is free and all are welcome. Zimmerman competed in the Summer Paralympics Games in 1996 and 2000. One highlight of his running career was winning a silver medal in the 1,500 meter race in Sydney, Australia in 2000.

Zimmerman has cerebral palsy. He also has a learning disability and was in special education classes. He was bullied as a child, not just by other youngsters, but once by a teacher.

His determination to succeed and to motivate others has taken him far. Zimmerman went on to not only graduate high school, but earn his bachelor’s degree at University of Wisconsin-Platteville and his master’s degree at University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse. His advanced degree is in physical education, with a concentration in adapted physical education. His grade-point average in the master’s program was 3.7. “He used his disability as strength—as a way to break down barriers so he could interact well with other people whether faculty members, fellow students or the kids that he taught,” said Manny Felix, UW-L assistant professor of adapted physical education.

Other featured speakers are U.S. Department of Justice attorneys who will give updates on 2010 regulations and current implementation. Bahram Samie and Ana Voss will present information that will be valuable to the community. The event will also feature entertainment by artists and performers with disabilities. The opening performance will be by Mark Erickson, a blind Anishinaabe drummer and storyteller.

There will also be a performance by the Ole Olson Onstage Ensemble and Entourage. The group, from VSA Minnesota, will perform “See Me Hear Me—An Attitude toward Accessible Arts.” Performers with and without disabilities include Sam Jasmine, Juliette Silvers, Kaitlyn Mielke, Jon Skaalen and others. It will be ASL-interpreted, audio described and captioned.

The closing performance will be by Mielke. She will perform “Defying Gravity” from the musical WICKED, in ASL. Mielke served as Miss Deaf Minnesota from 2009-2011 and is a summer intern at VSA Minnesota as part of her course work for a master’s program at the University of Minnesota.

Accommodations of sign language interpreters, CART, assistive listening devices and audio description will be provided. Other disability-related accommodations requests were due July 9. Anyone needingadditional accommodations or with questions should contact Cindy Tarshish, ADA Minnesota, at 651-603-2015 or cindyt@mcil-mn.org.

Event sponsors are the University of Minnesota Disability Services, ADA Minnesota, VSA Minnesota, Access Press, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, State Services for the Blind, the Minnesota State Council on Disability and the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living.

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