VI. The Independent Living Movement 1970 to Present D. Continuing Struggles 2. Dana Watten: Challenge Rather Than Accept the Status Quo
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Eight years after his accident, power wheelchairs became available. When Dana got his first power wheelchair, he felt as if he had a pair of wings. He now had some independence. The cost of Dana's first power wheelchair was $900. When he purchased a new chair in 1995, the cost had increased to $6,000.

In 1976, Dana moved into a nursing home and was there for about a year. While he was in the nursing home, his mother Marie remained a constant support. Dana attributes his ability to survive during these more than twenty years to Marie and his stepfather Al.

Dana and I met at Sister Kenney Institute in 1976. There was a new apartment building that was 100 percent accessible. I arranged for transportation with a friend Michael Patrick, and we took Dana and Marie on a tour of what was available. The apartment would have been perfect, but there was no Personal Care Attendant program then.

Dana met with Leah Labarre Welch, who herself was going through much of what Dana was, and she told Dana about the homemakers program. At that time the homemakers program was for sick moms with little children, but somehow Leah had managed to change that and had received homemaker hours for herself. Dana applied, and after many letters to Senators and Congressmen, was accepted in the program. Soon after that, Dana left the nursing home for his new home. In 1979, the Personal Care Attendant program (PCA) began in Minnesota, and Dana remains on that program today.

In 1980, I was working for Realty Management (now Lasalle Management, Inc.). I was being transferred, and Dana and I had conversations about the job I was leaving.