Well, it’s September and, after that blast of Fall on Labor Day weekend, it feels like summer is over. Again, the state fair was great this year and we’ve got a few highlights from our visits at the fair. This year Access Press was highlighted at the newspaper history museum at the fair. An article on our 20th anniversary appeared in the newspaper printed there. We are very proud to be part of the history of journalism in Minnesota.
Many of you have started classes at local schools and colleges and I hope you all do very well. I truly believe the key to success is education and lifelong learning. It’s hard to think about going back to school, I know. I’ve been struggling with it for a couple years now and finally made the dive back into the pool. I hope you’ll join me—if you’re not already ahead of me—in dedicating ourselves to becoming a more educated community. The classroom is a fabulous place to break down stereotypes for all of us with disabilities. Most of our high schools and colleges have very good disability services already in place. Things have changed in our educational opportunities and we can all take advantage of that. Just by being among them, we show our fellow students and teachers that we are an asset to the classroom and to society. That in turn will break down other barriers for getting well-paid jobs in the fields that we choose. The job market is getting better and each of us has to be prepared to step up for new changes in our lives. The unemployment rate in the disability community is outrageous and one way we can help ourselves is through education. It can be uncomfortable at times and we may feel awkward, but in addition to the challenges that school presents (and if it’s good, there are lots of them), there’s plenty of fun. Make sure you have a good time and enjoy yourself!
Access Press received the Skip Kruse Memorial Return to Work Award in August in Chicago from the Social Security Administration, for our work in making people in our community aware of SSA programs and opportunities to work. It was a privilege to represent Access Press at this regional event, in front of hundreds of people. The Social Security Administration is having its 75th anniversary this year. There were about 30 employees who received 40-year service awards from the Midwest Social Security administration. It was pretty amazing to see all these people that have been with SSA for more than half of its existence. What a prestigious honor for them and their families to be such a big part of the success of one of our government’s most helpful programs.
We’re beginning to see TV ads on the gubernatorial race. Not only is it going to be one of the most expensive governors’ races in the state’s history, but also it looks like it’s going to be one of the dirtiest. Already it’s a short-on-substance race with lots of misinformation. That may not be new, but it means that we as voters need to do our research diligently. We need to dig deep and determine our own priorities and then see how each candidate best matches our needs and priorities. You may learn some things from what is on TV commercials or what comes in your mailbox, but also look into each candidate’s background and what they’ve actually done in the past. Be your own fact-checker. Soon the candidates and their staff and volunteers will be doing door-knocking and phone-calling campaigns. Make sure you have all your questions handy and don’t be afraid to ask the representative to answer your concerns. Each candidate has a pretty extensive Website that outlines much of their philosophy on governing; check those out, too. There may be other races in your district, so don’t forget to brush up on those candidates and be informed about them as well. There’ll be many forums around the state where you can ask your questions in public (which informs other voters, too). Listen and ask the candidates about their disability platforms, and compare their platforms with your priorities. The candidates want us to ask and they want us to vote for them, so make sure you’re voting for the one that is most likely to have similar ideas on how to serve your needs. Look at the whole picture and consider the great good of all of us; try not to be a one-issue voter. In next month’s issue of Access Press, we will have more guidelines on what to do at the polls. Whether you’re in a classroom or registering to vote, fall’s a time to get educated.