Supported by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), the inaugural National Mobility Awareness Month commences this month to educate seniors, veterans, caregivers and people with disabilities about the many wheelchair accessible vehicles and adaptive mobility equipment options available for living an active and mobile lifestyle. Celebrating across the United States and Canada, the awareness month raises some important facts:
- More than 18 million people in the U.S. and Canada have mobility issues; six million of those are veterans.
- The number of veterans with disabilities has jumped 25 percent since 2001.
- People with disabilities constitute the second largest minority group in the U.S.
- According to a Harris Poll, just under a third of people with disabilities reported inadequate transportation was a problem; of those individuals, over half said it was a major problem.
"The statistics are clear," said Dave Hubbard, executive director and CEO for NMEDA. "The disability community deserves recognition for their contributions, and awareness is needed about the variety of mobility options available to them so they may continue to lead active lifestyles. NMEDA and its membership are advocates for the industry providing personalized products; ethical business practices; and unwavering service excellence prior to and after a purchase – all backed by NMEDA's Quality Assurance Program."
Locally Latitudes Travel of Southeastern Wisconsin is the only travel agent in Wisconsin to have earned this designation. Latitudes is dedicated to helping those with physical disabilities and medical conditions make their travel dreams a reality. Owner Holly Robertson’s interest in providing this service was inspired by her father who loved to travel and developed a medical condition which he thought would limit him from traveling. Latitudes provides Medical equipment, devices, and supplies for those who need them when they travel.
Holly stated “I was so glad I was able to provide my father one more chance to travel before he passed away.” Seeing his joy is what continues to inspires Robertson, “being able to help other stop dreaming and start packing me makes me think of my dad.”
As part of the National Mobility Awareness Month an online program has also been created to award three individuals who are triumphing over their disabilities with wheelchair accessible vehicles. Toyota, SanTan Honda and Chrysler provided the vehicles, which will later be customized by NMEDA manufacturers – BraunAbility, Vantage Mobility International (VMI) and Bruno Independent Living Aids.
Those who have been entered into the program are distinguished as Local Heroes, and their stories are posted at MobilityAwarenessMonth.com. Voting ends on May 13, 2012, and the winners will be announced the beginning of June.
"The response to the Local Heroes program has been simply inspirational," stated Sam Cook, president of the NMEDA board of directors, as well as president of Superior Van & Mobility. "More than 1,400 entries have been received and over 800,000 votes have been cast, which has led to 1.7 million visitors to the website. We are encouraged by the support of families and friends for their Local Heroes, and we look forward to awarding the vans."
"Great things happen when we focus on our abilities rather than our disabilities," said Mike Savicki, program spokesperson; C6, 7 quadriplegic; veteran; and athlete. "I'm so pleased to be playing a part in this cause."
National Mobility Awareness Month is the inaugural May celebration encouraging people with disabilities to enjoy active, mobile lifestyles. Founded in 1989 as a non-profit trade association, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association supports the awareness month with the assistance of more than 600 mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers and driver rehabilitation specialists dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities. For information, visit NMEDA's Facebook, Twitter or website.
National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association
Latitudes Travel – Waterford Wisconsin