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Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Resource center for disabled recognizes local advocates

October 31, 2001

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By definition, Prairie Fire, an American Bistro, should be a small restaurant that serves wine.

But the fact that every area of the restaurant at 724 Mass. is accessible to people with disabilities makes it much more than that, said Bob Mikesic, advocacy and Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator at Independence, Inc.

For its efforts to accommodate all members of the community, Prairie Fire on Tuesday evening received one of four Community Access Awards from Independence, Inc., an independent living resource center for people with disabilities.

Architect Bo March and Steve Wilson, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Susie, accepted the award.

"Good restaurants don't say no," Wilson said. "We had to figure out how to eliminate having to say no to people."

The highest honor, the Roger Williams Community Access Award, went to Brad Linnenkamp for his leadership and advocacy activities with the Self-Advocacy Coalition of Kansas. He has created and conducted self-advocacy training for people with developmental disabilities and is currently training junior high students to develop and practice self-determination skills before entering high school.

"When it comes to advocating not only for myself, but for all people with developmental disabilities around the state it brings me the most rewarding feeling anybody could ever have," Linnenkamp said.

Ann Carlin Ozegovic received a Community Access Award for her efforts to advocate for the employment of people with disabilities. She formerly served as special assistant to the secretary of the Kansas Department of Human Resources, where she advocated for the employment rights issues advanced by the Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns.

Most recently, she has incorporated accessibility features on KDHR's Kansas Job Link Web site and worked to achieve accessibility at the Lawrence Workforce Center, where she works as program specialist.

Also honored with a Community Access Award was Constance Wolfe, who wasn't present at Tuesday's award ceremony. Independence, Inc. recognized Wolfe for her advocacy for accessible housing in Lawrence. She was instrumental in beginning the center's Home of Your Own Program and, as a Realtor, has made efforts to find accessible housing for homebuyers with disabilities.

Community members were invited to tour the facilities at Independence Inc., 2001 Haskell Ave., before Tuesday's award ceremony.

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