Equal Rights Needs No Competition

Groups promoting equal rights should never be in competition with each other. The fight for equal rights needs and deserves as many honest voices as it can get.

I am most directly involved with promoting the equal rights of people with brain injuries, with their right to live in the most integrated setting.

Fortunately in my state there are some solid voices involved in this fight. The Brain Injury Association of New York State is the leading advocacy organization in the state;  the Providers Alliance is comprised of companies and individuals who provide services so some who live with brain injuries are able to live in the community: the Kahrmann Consumer Advocacy Coalition is a statewide coalition founded by and run by survivors and their families;  the Brain Injury Coalition of Central New York is comprised of an extraordinary group of survivors, family members and health care professionals; the National Brain Injury Foundation in Utica brings hope and empowerment to survivors and their families; the Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council (TBISCC) was formed by an act of the New York State Legislature to advise the Department of Health regarding service needs of persons who have sustained a traumatic brain injury, and the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities.

Given a recent productive meeting between the KCAC and Mark Kissinger, deputy commissioner for the New York Department of Health and his staff,  along with my knowledge and experience of those in all of the aforementioned groups, New York State is blessed to have them all and very much needs them all. There is no such thing as too many groups working for the right of all survivors of brain injury to live as independently as possible in the most integrating setting as possible.

The KCAC will be meeting with the Mr. Kissinger and his staff again in the next few months and has already reached out to the Brain Injury Association of NY and the Providers Alliance for a meeting. Moreover, we are already talking with both the NBIF and the BIC of Central New York. What is true about those in all the groups mentioned in this missive – including the DOH for those who may doubt it – is everyone’s heart certainly appears to be in the right place.

I hope and pray all of us are wedded to my favorite definition of humility – humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it is thinking less about yourself  – and  join together, work together, and urge each other on. If any of us get caught up in the destructive winds of competition and ego, we hinder the very thing we are all really about – equal rights.

This is not the life path I was on when I was shot in the head 1984. I was writing, driving a New York City cab, and pondering a career as a paramedic. But the squeeze of a teenage finger changed all that. And so here I am, connected to some wonderful people and some wonderful groups throughout this state.

And so we keep on moving, one day a time, humble and humbled up, which is at it should be. Life happens to us whether we like it or not. It does not go on forever, so let us all join together and work  heart and soul to make the world a better place for all people. And that includes each other.



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