My name is Melanie Margaret Liptrap. On a beautiful day, Friday, October 18, 2002, I was born. My mother Cynthia Beth Liptrap was in nursing school in Jasper, Georgia; I was born in the hospital of Jasper Medical Center. My mother was in her second to last month of nursing school when she had me and was 30 years old at the time. I have three sisters and a mother that is physically disabled; however, she is extraordinary. I am currently living in Lincoln County, which is in the Eastern Frontier of Colorado.
I roller skate, swim, and go bowling with members of my community who have disabilities. Most people seem to judge others by how they act and what they look like, but does it matter? To me it doesn’t. I want people that have disabilities, regardless if physical or mental, to be able to go into society and be included in community activities like it should be. I want to change how others may see those with disabilities by teaching how not to judge others on how a person acts and/or reacts, not to judge a persons’ appearance (including with or without devices that are needed), and to help educate those who don’t have a person in their life that is disabled by expanding their knowledge and understanding. I have the greatest friends and family that a person could have. Those with disabilities are human beings, and if people just get to know them they could have the greatest gift a person can have: a good friend that is like themselves-caring, loving, friendly, and also hopeful and full of dreams. I wanted to share my thoughts about schools and the disabled community in the Eastern Frontier of Colorado where I live.
How many schools have accessibility for people with physical disabilities that use wheelchairs? Our schools, in the Eastern Frontier of Colorado, have the buttons that you may push when you are using wheel chair or unable to open the doors manually, but do not have elevators and ramps accessible for persons who are in need of these additional and necessary objects, as well. If the schools took money out of their budget to get an elevator for all people with disabilities and in need of its use, or allow them to utilize the elevator they currently have only for staff use it would be easier for people with disabilities in the community to go to games like volleyball and basketball, allowing all people in the community to be allowed to come together as one and enjoy what our school has to offer.
Last year, there were two major issues for wheelchair access in our rural school. First, our school does have wheelchair accessible toilets, however, the water fountain and the long rectangular tables in the lunch area made it impossible for a wheelchair to enter by those items blocking the bathroom. Therefore, when one of our peers in elementary school who had a disability, a young boy with who uses a wheel chair, caused him to not be able to use his wheelchair to access the bathroom. In order to do so, he had to get out of his chair and scoot across the lunch area to make his way to the bathroom. Secondly, a couple of peers had issues that he had to eat lunch at the very end of the table for breakfast and lunch, complaining this took up too much room for them to get by. He walked up and down the stairs, for P.E. or sometimes for recess, on his hands and used his abilities in the best ways possible he could for himself. Currently, space has been adjusted in our school with plenty of small round tables and rectangular tables, making the bathroom accessible to all and getting around the lunch area easier than before. Prior to this, our eastern frontier school was remodeled last year, through summer, and into the beginning of this year for a short time. Therefore, I am happy to say that these two issues have been resolved, however, disappointed that the young boy did not return to the school this following year of 2014-2015.
There are other issues that need to be addressed, not only in our school but in our community, to make life as comfortable and as accessible for all in our community. Just by watching this 2nd or 3rd grade student, while I was in 5th grade, inspired me in ways I had never thought before…to do good things in the world with people who are living with physical, mental or psychological disabilities. So, I did just that! I got involved with Eastern Colorado Services, who received a Community Participation grant from the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council (CDDC) and became active in my area, the eastern frontier, helping in any way I can. I have attended functions with Vicki Duran who is the director of the program in our area. I have been able to do such activities with project participants such as Christmas Caroling, helping others to learn how to roller skate, being present to a dinner that the CDDC came down from Denver and talked to us about what they were doing to help, not only the community, but the whole state, and last but certainly not least…. spending time talking and getting to know those I’m spending time with, and them getting to know me, to.
I want to thank Council staff, Susan Fager and Lionel Llewellyn for asking me if I would write this blog. It is such an honor, more than you’ll ever know. I have always wanted to do something big to help someone who needs it. Now, I can help many and live my dream even at the age of twelve years old. Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity CDDC, to work with those I deeply care about and then to be able to write a blog about important issues, clients’ interests, and share with everyone in hopes to make a change. Hopefully, one day my inspiration I have received from others will be extended to inspire someone else, or more, to do the same.