ESCANABA - Do you find yourself feeling impatient while waiting for an individual with a wheelchair, walker or crutches to maneuver across the street or through the aisles of a busy mall? Are you frustrated when you are trying to communicate with someone who has difficulty speaking or staying on focus?
Then Saturday's "Walk a Mile In My Shoes" event at the Delta Plaza Mall will hopefully change your prospective. The disability awareness event will take place from 1-3 p.m. with registration the Plaza Food Court.
Participants will have the opportunity to use equipment that people with physical challenges need for daily use, such as wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, canes and other means for mobility. They will use these tools to complete a mile walk throughout the mall. Along the way, there will be stations to visit to learn about different aspects of the lives, jobs, recreation and social life of those dealing with disabilities.
"The goal of this event is to bring awareness and greater understanding of people who have disabilities," said Brenda Crow, Mix and Mingle and Community Events coordinator for Pathways. "Children need to know it is okay to ask questions when they see someone who is 'different' instead of staring. Education of our young people is the key to our future."
The awareness event is sponsored by the Delta County RICC (Regional Inclusive Community Coalition), a local group made up of people with developmental disabilities, family members, advocates, and service providers, all of whom want people - regardless of their abilities - to have a voice in their community.
RICC focuses on issues that affect the daily living of those living with disabilities, such as employment, transportation, rights & responsibilities, self-advocacy, community living, education, civil rights, accessibility, and housing.
"I am proud to be a member of the RICC," said Bonnie. "The RICC has helped me advocate for myself."
"I am more active in the community and I shot my first deer this past year," said Bill, another RICC member.
In their quest for acceptance and inclusion, members of RICC take part in additional programs and services offered by the community and through a host of service organizations. These include the Aktion Club, ARC of Delta County, CHAT (Community Handicap Awareness Team), Delta Area Transit Authority, Lakestate Industries, Pathways Community Mental Health, Mix and Mingle Community Events Group, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Salvation Army and Wheelin' Sportsmen.
RICC meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of each month from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at various locations throughout Escanaba.