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Center for Independent Living: "Self Help is the Best Help"

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/centerfori_3559.mp3

Senator Barack Obama has endorsed the Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act, a piece of legislation currently being pushed through the Senate to strengthen its predecessor: The original Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law 18 years ago by George Bush Sr. In the third report of an on-going series focusing on the Disabilities Act, KSMU reporter Megan Keathley takes a closer look at disability services here in southwest Missouri, and how a change in attitude can make a big difference.

"Self help is the best help." So says a small, hand-stitched piece of quilt hanging in a frame in an office just off Battlefield Road in Springfield. The letters on the front of the building read "Southwest Center for Independent Living." Most people driving by might mistake it for a retirement home or some sort of leasing office. But to people with disabilities in the Ozarks, and to director Gary Maddox, it's something else entirely.

Maddox says that although the center has been providing disability services for over 21 years, "Independent Living" isn't just part of a fancy title. It's a lifestyle philosophy, and part of the changing attitude toward people with disabilities.

Maddox believes that disability is increasingly affecting even more lives with the population of aging baby boomers. But, he says, in times like these, Generations X and Y should prepare to live with disabilities as well.

Congress has recently taken action to re-affirm and strengthen the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Regardless of what happens in Washington, the Center for Independent Living here in Southwest Missouri will continue to provide services and assistive tools in an on-going effort to help those with disabilities achieve just what the center's title implies: an independent life. Gary Maddox says he has no regrets.