GKM: What motivated you to do the mapping event to celebrate your birthday?
AR: I really wanted to do something significant to celebrate my 30th birthday. I knew my friends and family would be excited to celebrate this milestone with me, so it felt like a perfect opportunity to get them (and others) together to make something meaningful happen. The past year or so I’ve been getting more involved in advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities in Philadelphia. One thing I like to do is encourage organizations to hold their events at accessible venues– which has proved to be more difficult than I originally anticipated for a few reasons. Not only are there few accessible places, but it is hard to find them. There are a few resources online but I have found that they are not necessarily up to date, accurate, or user-friendly. I’d love for Philadelphia to improve it’s accessibility overall, of course, by ramping businesses and including wheelchair accessible bathrooms, but building an accurate resource for this information seemed like a really good first step.
GKM: Please describe the goal of mapping and how others could get involved in their areas.
GKM: What has your experience as an OT taught you about accessibility?
AR: My parents instilled in me a strong sense of tikkun olam from a young age. My brother and I attended a Jewish day school and much of our daily lives focused on making the world a better place. Something that has always stuck with me– my classmates and I were instructed to invite everyone in our class to our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. This sense of community inclusion has always stayed with me.
My father works in the Jewish community and my mother is a social worker who supports Holocaust survivors. They work day in and day out to make their communities better. One meaningful moment in the development of my passion for social justice is when my father was involved in the Save Darfur coalition. As a high school student, I was intrigued and inspired by the Jewish community’s involvement in this cause. It taught me what an important role we play in contributing to social justice not only in our own communities but around the world.