I am writing to you from the library tonight, as my server at home really has it in for me.
I Facebook E-mailed California’s First Lady, Maria Shriver, of the political Kennedy dynasty. The daughter of the late Eunice Shriver, who passed away recently, not long before her brother Ted did, she is already demonstrating that she plans to follow in her relatives’ footsteps in philanthropy and civil service.
Shriver’s mother helped establish the Special Olympics in 1968, which allows people with mental disabilities to participate in competitive sports. She was also a staunch advocate for many children’s health issues. Maria’s beloved uncle, Ted, helped pass one of the most groundbreaking legislations in civil rights history, the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990.
Given her family’s proactive record, it is fitting that, as wife of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, she has seized the opportunity as a platform to advance other notable civil rights efforts. She is spearheading an initiative called “WE Include,” which exists to encourage the employment of individuals with developmental disabilities. “One of my greatest joys has been witnessing and sharing in their triumphs working alongside others in their community – the impact it has is indescribable and the possibilities are endless. California is once again leading by example,” Shriver has said, according to a press release on her official Web site, www.firstlady.ca.gov.
I think it’s blatantly clear why I was looking forward to contacting her! Her efforts for the inclusion of an oft-overlooked group of people in the workforce is a testament to the kind of spokesperson she would be. Too often, people with mental and physical challenges (including spina bifida) are marginalized by society in the workplace. This impedes our full integration into society at-large. Ms. Shriver recognizes the value that people like us have, and the assets that we can be to any workplace setting.
These past few months, and weeks especially, have seen us all through a grueling debate about healthcare reform. I have to say, I am very blessed to have good healthcare, so I can only fathom what I might have been through, especially in my childhood, had I not been able to get the proper care I needed. During this trying time, let us remember that healthcare is not a political issue at all, but one of social responsibility. Those of us who have in abundance need to reach out to others who have little, and while often the answer to these problems is political in nature, it is fundamental to our growth as a society to put the politics, symbols and titles aside, and just do what is best for the health and wealth of the people of this country.
May God Bless,