Sunday, February 22, 2009

West Virginia disability advocacy group expands


MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- Currently in West Virginia there are 48,000 people with disabilities. That number makes disabled people the largest population per capita in the state, which is why advocates say it is important to make sure their voices are heard, especially when it comes to choices involving independent living.

Last month, an advocacy group expanded to bring more power and rights to disabled people. On Friday that group's new North Central chapter met for the first time in Morgantown.

About 20 people participated in the first meeting of the North Central Fair Shake Chapter. Fair Shake was established in 1992, to ensure a "fair shake" for people with disabilities.

Members have been active in the state capitol impacting legislation for the past 17 years. Now with the new session started, organizers want people to come together to make a difference.

"A lot of times bills try to go through that are not good for people with disabilities," said Cathy Hutchinson of the Fair Shake Network. "And there's a lot of bills out there that are good bills for people with disabilities. But unless we let them know from numbers that this is not a good bill for us, this is a good bill for us, they don't know that."

Disability Advocacy Day is March 4 at the State Capitol rotunda.