Prior to becoming the summer intern here at Access Press, I was introduced to the paper through the Department of Rehabilitation Services which partnered with the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) to provide funding for this internship. HECUA is an organization that aims to educate youth about social justice issues, which makes an alliance with Access Press a natural. My primary contribution to the paper this summer will be seeking to improve the efficiency of its distribution but I also hope to do some writing, as well as basically seeing how the entire paper is put together.
I have cerebral palsy and use an electric wheelchair. In 2000, I graduated from Spring Lake Park High School. After recently completing a year and a half in Courage Residence a personally trying, but rewarding, time in my life I am in my second year at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, looking toward studying something related to writing or small business management.
My goal this summer is to make sure the paper gets to as many readers as efficiently as possible. One of the problems Access Press faces is consistently reaching its target audience, the disability community. Above all, the paper should be at places that are accessible and are frequented by those who have an interest in it. Courage Center, for example, is a large drop site for these reasons. We are also looking to expand the delivery of our paper in greater Minnesota, to better serve the disability community in outstate areas. In order to effectively distribute the paper, it is helpful to have a contact person at each of our drop sites to tell us how many papers were taken or how many remain. This way, we can evaluate the accuracy of the number of papers left at each drop site and act upon it. My goal this summer is to follow up with the contacts we already have and create more awareness of Access Press by establishing new contacts.
I am also hopeful that this summer I can see a different side of the disability community. Due to my youth and the fact that I was mainstreamed most of my life, there are critical community issues that I have only viewed from one angle. Working at Access Press has challenged me to see the other sides of issues and to critically evaluate other perspectives. Just recently, we were having a discussion over lunch about the new Mary Jo Copeland orphanage, to be built in Eagan, and more than one person was taken aback because I did not see the other side of the issue. I looked at the orphanage as a good thing after all, an orphanage provides a home to children who need one. Unfortunately it is also an
institution, as Tim Benjamin and Rick Cardenas (of ACT) pointed out. They asked me where I would rather see children grow up: in a facility with a hundred children, or in a family home with a few children. I’m not sure whether I agree or disagree with their viewpoint, but it was refreshing to have it brought to my attention.
Star Tribune and Pioneer Press reports on the disability community seem to be limited to human interest stories, not dealing with the larger issues in daily life for a person with a disability. The local disability community needs a forum such as Access Press to discuss important issues which rarely make it into the mainstream media: accessible performances, accessible taxicabs, housing, legislation, and countless other things that affect and enrich the lives of people with disabilities.
Therefore, I have a request of Access Press Readers. If you know of anywhere this paper could be distributed to others who would find it interesting or useful, please call Aaron at Access Press at (651) 644-2133. All of your help is greatly appreciated!