Thursday, May 13, 2010

Edmunds Accessibility Effort Wins Award

Today the effort to make Edmunds schools accessible garnered some lovely recognition. The Vermont Family Network presented one of the leaders of the Edmunds campaign, Michael Wood-Lewis, with it's first annual Nancy DiVenere Award for Outstanding Parent or Caregiver.

Parent to Parent of Vermont founder, Nancy DiVenere, herself made the presentation and outlined the struggle to open up this school to all students and community members. Wood-Lewis said in accepting the award on behalf of the team who worked on the effort...

... about the Edmunds school accessibility project... wow! We went from a solid "no way" to our request to open up the most prominent school in the state... to one year later hearing a big fat "yes!" In fact, the school board just approved a contractor this week and construction on a five-stop elevator and bathroom modifications should be completed by fall of this year. Amazing.

So thanks to Superintendent Jeanne Collins and the Burlington School Commissioners for being open to this progress and making it real. And thanks to the hundreds of Vermonters who weighed in through Front Porch Forum, letters and calls, button-holing officials on the sidewalk, etc... your grassroots push made all the difference.

And that team I mentioned... a fantastic group of persistent professionals, politicians and parents, including: Suzy Comerford, City Councilor Karen Paul, Peggy Owen Sands, Connie Curtin, Deborah Lisi-Baker, Kim Brittenham, Sarah Launderville, Sam Abel-Palmer, Patrick Halladay, Jessica Oski, and others.

One last point... this accessibility campaign would not have happened without the inspiration provided by our ten-year-old son, Benjamin Wood-Lewis, and his younger siblings, Madeline, Henry and Isaac. I'm one proud papa. And my beautiful wife, Valerie, played an active and critical role throughout this project.

And since I'm up here to receive an "outstanding parent award," let me accept it in honor of my parenting mentor, my partner and my inspiration... the best parent I know... Valerie Wood-Lewis. Thank you.

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