All posts by shentan

From the Streets to the Courts: Skyhawks wheelchair basketball helps gunshot survivors adapt

By Shen Wu Tan
Video by Hannah Gebresilassie

Marcus Jones was shot four times during an attempted armed robbery on April 17, 1995 on Chicago’s Southeast Side. Struck three times in the leg and once in the lower back, Jones suffered a serious injury and was devastated when doctors told him he would never walk again. He was 24 years old.

As an impoverished 16-year-old boy attending Kenwood Academy, Jones was drawn to the brand name clothes that many of the other students wore. Unable to afford these items, yet attracted to the materialistic culture, Jones joined the Gangster Disciples and turned to selling cocaine. He sold drugs for more than six years.

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Illinois Developmental Centers Are to Remain Open

By Shen Wu Tan

The seven Illinois state-operated developmental centers, housing individuals with developmental disabilities, will not close, according to the second proposed state budget.

Due to the number of individuals still living in these centers and the amount of time it takes to transition these residents into the community, the state cannot justify shutting down the centers, said Marianne Manko, director of communications at the Illinois Department of Human Services.

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Gov. Rauner Proposes Nearly $200 Million in Budget Cuts for Community Care Program

By Shen Wu Tan

Gov. Rauner’s second budget proposed to cut nearly $200 million from the Community Care Program, which provides homecare services for seniors. If passed, these budget cuts would impact approximately 44,000 seniors according to the Service Employees International Union Healthcare.

“The Community Care program is a trusted program that has kept seniors living in their own homes for many, many years,” said Terri Harkin, home care vice president of SEIU Healthcare. “And it saves the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year by keeping vulnerable seniors out of nursing homes and living in their own homes where they prefer to be.”

About 84,000 seniors utilized community care services in 2015 as reported by the Illinois Department of Aging. Services include adult day services, in-home services and emergency home response services.

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Housing Advocates Pressure the CHA to “Keep Its Promise”

By Alexis Myers and Shen Wu Tan

Advocates for affordable housing recently campaigned for the passage of a housing ordinance that aims to reduce homelessness and protect the city’s remaining subsidized housing stock at a City Hall public hearing Feb. 17.

The ordinance called “Keeping the Promise” would increase the distribution of housing vouchers, increase construction of affordable housing units across all neighborhoods and improve Chicago Housing Authority transparency. It would require the CHA to utilize 97 percent of its available housing voucher funds.

According to the Chicago Housing Initiative, the CHA was sitting on a $430 million surplus and withholding public housing vouchers from circulation—with no debt, and a fully funded pension system.
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Ford Partners with BraunAbility to Produce First Wheelchair-Accessible SUV

By Shen Wu Tan

A world leading company in manufacturing accessible vehicles showcased the world’s first wheelchair-accessible SUV at the Chicago Auto Show last week. BraunAbility MXV, a converted 2016 Ford Explorer, enables customers with compromised mobility to comfortably drive or ride as passengers.

The new vehicle provides mobility and freedom to costumers in wheelchairs to perform daily activities, said Joseph Young, the BraunAbility area sales manager for Mid-Atlantic consumer sales.

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Supporters of Independent Living Call for Legislation to Protect Home Services and Discourage Institutionalization

By Shen Wu Tan

A proposed bill that safeguards Illinois home care services passed the House Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

The bill, HB 4351, sponsored by state Rep. Greg Harris (D-13), would prevent Gov. Bruce Rauner from increasing the eligibility score for community-based services until a new assessment tool is developed. 

HB 4351 also prohibits the state of Illinois from implementing “an updated assessment tool that causes more than 1% of then-current recipients to lose eligibility.”

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Freshii Welcomes All Customers with Open Doors

By Shen Wu Tan

The Canadian fast food chain Freshii recently launched its new accessibility program at its Chicago area locations, inviting and welcoming all customers into their stores, including those who require extra assistance.

The Freshii Assist program includes installations of Inclusion Solutions’ BigBell alert systems at 28 Chicago locations and one Evanston location, as well as company-wide training on disability awareness.

“We want to make it known to anybody in the community, whether it is a mom [with a stroller] or a disabled person or an elderly person, we are here to help them and make their day easier,” said David Grossman, the area developer of Chicagoland Freshii.

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Entrepreneur with Disability Manages Own Vending and Delivery Business

By Shen Wu Tan

“Ready…set…go!” Matthew Cochran yelled excitedly as he raced toward the entrance of his North Shore apartment. Eager to relax after a busy morning of deliveries, a wide grin stretched across his face as his plaid jacket flapped behind him.

For months, Cochran has successfully managed a Chicago-based vending and delivery business, YIKES! Beverages Where You Want Them, in spite of his developmental disability.

Every Tuesday morning, Cochran and his Clearbrook job coach, Colin Drozdoff, fill and stack a rolling cart with Coca-Cola products from the storage unit behind his apartment.

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CTA Proposes 20-Year Plan to Make All Railways Accessible

By Shen Wu Tan

The Chicago Transit Authority announced earlier this month its proposal for a 20-year plan to make its entire rail system 100 percent accessible. According to the CTA’s website, about 70 percent of its rail systems are accessible and have ADA-compliant elevators or ramps.

In collaboration with the City of Chicago, ADA, architects and members of the disability community, the CTA will establish a blueprint, cost estimate and schedule outline of the 2036 plan.

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Overtime Policy Leaves Home Care Patients and Workers Fretting

By Shen Wu Tan

David Conn was only 22 years old in 1990 when he was hit by a car in Nashville, Tenn. Rushed to Nashville Memorial Hospital, Conn suffered both physical and mental injuries from the accident. He lay in a coma in a hospital bed for more than six months.

“It’s not like Hollywood when they wake up and they’re all together,” Paula Templeton, Conn’s mother, said. “They’re not. He had to have so much therapy and different kinds of doctors.”

The car struck Conn’s left leg, breaking the bones. And as he rode along on the car’s hood, his head violently banged against the windshield – resulting in a severe closed head injury – until he was finally thrown into the street.

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