Independence Inc. advocates to ‘expect more’ of people with disabilities

“We do disability right,” that’s the motto of a local resource center for independent living.

Leaders of the organization say they pride themselves in being different from most other independent living groups, because they’re people with disabilities helping others with disabilities.

Independence Inc. is a nonprofit that serves 11 counties in the region region as a disability rights organization.
Its mission is to advocate for those with disabilities and help them set and achieve their goals to live independently.

The 8th annual picnic is Thursday, July 17 at Roosevelt Park from 5 to 7 at shelters 3 and 14.
Dinner starts at 5 and advocacy awards will be presented at 6.

Looking ahead to the event, KX News went to visit the organization to learn more about what its all about.

Executive Director for Independence Inc., Scott Burlingame said, “We work hard to help people with disabilities, to remove whatever barriers that keeps them from living full and complete lives within our community.”

Independence Inc. achieves that by providing resources like peer mentoring for members to gain leadership skills.

For John Sallee, it started with a six week course more than a year ago, and he’s been involved ever since.

“My mom was disabled. She had polio when she was 14, and I’d seen all the barriers that she had.”

Now, that drives him to spread awareness about people with disabilities.

After losing his left eye in an accident almost 20 years ago, he’s applying what he’s learned at Independence Inc. to his own life, too.

“People don’t know that I don’t see people on my side here a lot. I run or bump into them and they look at you like, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ So, it makes me more aware that people don’t know everything about people with disabilities,” Sallee said.

The mission of Independence Inc is to help people with disabilities live independently. But it’s also to help the community understand and how to become more aware of how to approach and treat people with disabilities.

“The most important thing that we ask is that people with disabilities expect a little bit more of themselves, and that they look to improve their lives,” added Burlingame. “And that the community at large does what they can in order to open more doors for people with disabilities – both literally, and figuratively.”

People will also be able to watch or try BEEP kickball, which is kickball designed for those who can’t see, and when the noise sounds, that lets people know to kick or which direction to run towards the base.

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