The March meeting of the Salem Commission on Disabilities was held March 17th, 2008 at 4 PM. Attending: Jack Harris, chair, Charlie Reardon, co-chair, Debra Lobsitz, Jean Harris, David Martel, David Moisan, David Tracht, Andrew J. LaPointe, Michael Taylor, Jean Levesque, Assistant ADA Coordinator and Mike Sosnowski, City Council liasion.
Our other guest today is Bill Legault, Salem YMCA.
Bill: I want to get equipment for people with disabilities, but I don’t know how many people with disabilities are out there. There may be grants available for accessible equipment. The new Y on Leggs Hill doesn’t have accessible equipment, but it does have wheelchair basketball.
Jack: I’ve found that, in years of advocacy, that you can’t build it and expect people with disabilities to come.
Maureen: A wheelchair basketball league in Salem was very successful, but only because there was one energetic staffer emailing his pool of players.
Many people with disabilities have so many obstacles to run into that they get discouraged and uninterested in recreation.
Andy: Is it easier to get to the Salem Y than the new Leggs Hill YMCA? Bill: Yes the bus is close by and it’s downtown, but it’s a 110-year old building, so it’s not as good as it could be.
Jack: It takes more time for people with disabilities to get involved with anything and change their routines. We just have to make more effort and talk more with them.
Dave M.: No Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays off for me—always working out at 8:30 AM, 3 days a week!
Bill: I’m looking for grants for equipment. I’m a very experienced user (and specifier) of exercise equipment.
Jack: You can count on our support if you need letters to grant-writers.
Dave M.: Bill set up a great routine for me when I was recovering.
Andy: Because Salem is so disabled-friendly, over 20% of our population has a disability. Many people with disabilities don’t get out because of lack of self-esteem, fear, intimidation.
Maureen: What pool facilities does the Salem Y have?
Bill: Two pools. The smaller pool is for physical therapy and runs at 84 degrees. It’s not completely accessible, there are three steps but we can move people with chairs. The big pool has a ramp.
Andy: Is there Braille material?
Bill: We’re working on it.
Charlie: Are there wheelchairs for water?
Bill: We have one with the big pool but we can move it to the small pool if needed.
Andy: I work with TIC Network, so I’ll get us publicized.
The Commission thanks Maureen and Bill for taking the time to appear for us, and we’ll be sure to work with them again soon.