Our mission was founded to make independence possible for people living with disabilities of all ages. Every person who is impacted by our programming has a story to tell.
Gabe is living with spina bifida. Despite living with this disability, Gabe is destined and determined to live life as a normal teenager, anxious for the freedom to come and go as he pleases. “It’s better now that I can come and go because I have a ramp,” Gabe, a freshman at Northview High School, explains.
His family recently moved into a home that was not accessible. After being approved for a grant, ACT soon began planning for a ramp installation, but zoning complications halted the build. Neighbors of Gabe showed support by attending a zoning hearing with Sylvania Township Zoning Department. Our staff advocated on Gabe’s behalf and successfully secured a variance for a Reasonable Accommodation. ACT’s Advocacy Program hopes this victory will lead to positive change in zoning procedures that prolong needed accommodations for people with disabilities.
Receiving the ramp will not only improve access to the community for Gabe, but will also grant his family peace of mind. “My parents will no longer have to move their work schedules around to make sure they are here for me. I am able to get on and off the bus independently, for the first time.” His family noted a sense of relief knowing that if there is ever an emergency, Gabe can move to a safe location. His stepdad Justin shares, “If anything were to happen he now could remove himself from the situation and use his cell phone outside to call for help. That is a huge relief to our family.”
Now that his ramp is installed, Gabe is getting familiar with other ACT programming, signing up for our Life Skills classes. The Ability Center’s Life Skills Department assists youth with disabilities to develop skills for independent living and competitive employment through a series of interactive classes. Gabe is already gearing up for his future career and gaining valuable experience as one day he hopes to study Sports Management in college. “I work with the boys’ basketball team as their assistant. I help with drills at practice, get them water, and help with whatever they need. Now, I can hang out with them outside of school more,” Gabe says. Basketball is his go-to sport, “LeBron is my favorite player,” he reveals. Feeling comfortable on the court, Gabe recently joined The Ability Center’s Toledo Crash wheelchair football team and played in his first game against the Toledo Reign.
His next goal? Connect with TARPS so that he can travel to the mall with friends and go to the convenience store with the guys on the basketball team. Our organization is pleased to provide benefit to this young man and his family through our wide variety of programs. We are excited to see where Gabe goes next!