Last week I had the good fortune of interviewing Kathleen Elder, a Reston resident who “lives” with Multiple Sclerosis. As the effects of the disease progressed, Kathleen was forced to leave her home in Loudoun County to find a home that offered her one-level living with no stairs. After an exhaustive search throughout all of Northern Virginia she selected a condo community in Reston which has been her home over 10 years ago.
Eventually Kathleen had to give up the keys to her car; fortunately her home is in a location that offers her convenient access to public transportation and shopping. Kathleen admits that she has had to face tremendous challenges in planning her daily activities around public transportation schedules, and navigating offices and settings that are not accessible to someone in a wheelchair.
In spite of the challenges, Kathleen keeps a busy schedule with exercise, classes and activities at Reston Community Center, which she refers to as her “second home”. She credits her knowledge of resources and ability to manage her busy lifestyle by “talking to as many people as possible” about her disease. She recognizes that this may be difficult for many people; however she has found, “by talking and reaching out, you learn that people want to help you.”
Kathleen has lived in many different locations all over the world, and she feels that Reston to the be the best place she has ever lived.
- What are your thoughts on living with a disability in Reston?
- If you are active and car-dependent have you ever thought about living without a car?
- Are the businesses and places you visit easily accessible to all?
- Is your home accessible or could someone visit you that has limited mobility?
These are tough questions that we all need to be thinking about, a community that is accessible to all offers better environment for everyone (many of us enjoy using curb cuts with a baby stroller or bicycle, or automatic doors when your hands are full).
You will have an opportunity for learn more about resources and developments in Reston around accessibility at the Accessibility: A Call to Action event at Reston Association on Oct. 3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
At the event you will learn how pending proposed accessibility updates to the Virginia building code and a proposed General Assembly bill can improve accessibility for Restonians with disabilities, and how, together, we can help advocate for their success. Your ideas can help!
• Delegate Ken Plum (VA 36th District)
• Matthew Barkley, Director, Disability Services Planning and Development, Fairfax County Department of Family Services
• Ken Fredgren, Chairman, Reston Accessibility Committee of Reston Citizens Association
RSVP: Jan Pohl, Reston Interfaith E-mail: email@example.com Phone: 571-323-1412