Celebrating 25 Years - Part II
Creating Amazing Transitions (CAT) & Early Stuggles
By Marion Trimble
My first memory of Southwest Center for Independent Living (SCIL) takes me to the first location on Cinderella Street in the spring of 1992 while I waited to turn in my resume.
It wasn’t someone that I met first, but a funny little dog with big eyebrows and a scruffy mustache that came bounding around the corner. He looked at me, then ran back down the hallway and a few seconds later he brought his master to greet me.
The dog was “Whiskers,” a hearing dog who belonged to Betty Claypool an Independent Living Specialist (ILS). I was hired a month later and Whiskers and I became long-time friends and coworkers.
My first job as an ILS focused my time on creating the new transition program for high school students with disabilities called Creating Amazing Transitions (CAT).
There were ample students wanting to participate, however the challenge lay in building bridges of communication and partnerships with public schools and parents. After years of educating the community and providing our program, CAT became a great success.
As an ILS, I provided the core services of the Independent Living Movement through information and referral and larger cases with consumers. Our staff was small and we each wore many hats from assistive technology to advocacy and outreach to marketing.
Advocacy for the rights of individuals with disabilities in the community was needed everywhere you looked: city buses needed accessibility, curb cuts were in bad shape or too steep, the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) had just been passed and the road to compliance was just beginning.
Often, the public did not understand who we were, what we wanted or why we wanted it. Fighting for equal access was a never ending battle and most consumer goals required the constant persistence of our staff members.
Those early years were not for wimps, but we persevered and the consumers we taught have paved the way for others with disabilities today.
SCIL continues this legacy broadening consumer’s world of inclusion each and every day and I am so much honored to have been part of that growth.