The Ability Center aims to make Toledo the most disability-friendly city in America

The center’s Think Differently Campaign includes a number of organizations.
The goal is to make Toledo the most disability-friendly in America
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 5:13 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Ability Center is working to make the Toledo area the most disability-friendly community in America. The next chapter of that effort is underway. The organization has a number of community partners helping to reach that goal.

“Communities are just better when everybody participates, and they’re more vibrant,” said Stuart James, the head of The Ability Center. “We’re very, very lucky to have the whole community behind us and over time we’ll see the results of that.”

The Ability Center started the next chapter of its disability-friendly commitment on Tuesday. The Think Differently Campaign offers everything from signature events, to a monthly Podcast, as well as a lunch and learn series.

James says a number of community leaders and organizations are part of the initiative.

“I think it’s important to get buy-in from community leaders,” James said. “It starts with the community leaders. Where they go people follow.”

Glass City Metropark was the backdrop for the event. Metroparks Toledo is part of the new campaign.

“This park is a good example of our efforts because the Glass City Riverwalk is being built right behind us,” said Scott Carpenter, a spokesperson with Metroparks Toledo. “It will be a five-mile continuous and accessible path on both sides of the Maumee River.”

James says the entire community can be part of the effort.

“The more people we have the better. You can volunteer, foster a dog, help build a ramp,” said James. “There are many, many ways to participate and you can always donate money.”

Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the incredible work being done in our community. Betty Siegel is the Director of Accessibility at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“The interesting thing about accessibility is when it’s good and done well, it’s invisible and seamless,” Siegel said. “You’re not aware of it because it just happens so beautifully.”

Siegel says The Kennedy Center will host its leadership exchange in arts and disability conference here in 2024. Toledo is the smallest city to ever host the conference.

“You are such a lucky community to have an organization like The Ability Center based here,” Siegel said. “For them to bring their knowledge and expertise to the rest of the community is indeed rare. It does not happen in every community. "

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