Illinois Advocates Ride And Rally For Community Supports
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 24, 2005
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS--Here are some numbers to remember: 30, 700, 5,000 and 300 million.
Last week about 30 advocates traveled around Illinois to draw attention to the need for community supports for people with disabilities.
"Freedom Ride '05" consisted of a caravan of nine buses that started in Alton on Monday, then stopped in several cities to hold rallies, and ended 700 miles and four days later at the Capitol in Springfield.
Organizers with the Campaign for Real Choice also reportedly gathered more than 5,000 signatures supporting state Senate Bill 1324, called the Community First Act. The measure, introduced into the Assembly last spring, calls for state funding, that would have been spent to house a person in a nursing home or other institution, to be spent instead on supports to help the person live in the community.
Illinois officials estimate that the state spends $300 million each year to house 2,740 people with intellectual disabilities in its nine state-run institutions. Community advocates claim that those same people could be served in the community for less than one half the cost to taxpayers, while giving them more control over their lives.
"We've talked and talked and talked, and very few people have listened, now we are going to do something more dramatic," said campaign organizer Lester Pritchard. "We are going to keep going until they do something different."
"When you are in an institution you have no control over what happens to you. You can't leave; you are forced to live there."
"Disabled advocates rally for independence" (The Telegraph)
"Group pushes for end to institutionalization of disabled, seniors" (News-Gazette)
"Funding for disabled subject of rally Attendees request state move away from institutions" (State Journal-Register)
"Rally in support of disabilities bill garners wide support" (The Pantagraph)