Archive for category Society and Public Policy

Random “Rocktober” Stuff

The month of October, resplendent with the fiery colors of fall foliage amid the brisk chilly air, serves as a potent reminder to us all that yet another year has quickly come and, hence, will soon be gone. We look toward the upcoming holidays with hopeful anticipation and, to next month’s general election perhaps with nervous trepidation. But the O in October can also stand for opportunity, if we allow for it.

Below are some random photos snapped at two events I attended this month involving friends and acquaintances from the region’s very diverse disability community. The month of October is as good a time as any to find ways to enhance your life and of others in your community by becoming involved with an advocacy organization, a charity, school, neighborhood youth recreation facility, or senior citizen activity center, etc.

Disability Pride Parade, Trenton, NJ, October 7th, 2016

rolling flag

These colors don’t run. They just keep on rollin’!

trenton mayor

Introducing the mayor of Trenton. Check out the guy on the right with the “clean energy” backpack though!

chair dancing singer cuban dance

Performers with disabilities showcased unique talents ranging from wheelchair dancing, to rock and folk, Caribbean, and country western. Even some stand up comedy!


The celebration concludes as the staff of Alliance Center For Independence of Edison, NJ takes the stage. Thank you to ACI, performers, emcees Millie and Maria, and to all involved for making this event a huge success year after year. See you again in 2017!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

eagle table

Incidentally, I did not actually march in the #NJDPP but did stay at the Wyndham Hotel adjacent to the festivities. This beautiful eagle table greets visitors in the hotel lobby. How ’bout those ‘Birds! “Fly Eagles, Fly!”


“Empowerment Through the Lifespan” Conference, The Lakeview School, Edison, NJ, October 22nd 2016

  medical presentation   sports presentation  

legal presentation

The Spina Bifida Resource Network, “theSBRN” of central New Jersey organized an all day Saturday conference with excellent speakers covering various topics of interest to those impacted by spina bifida. Discussions focused on medical issues, adaptive sports, and legal issues pertinent to spina bifida and other disabilities. Kudos to the staff  of “theSBRN” and all presenters and participants for creating a fun and informative event that was well worth it for those braving the dreary rain and cold to take part. Plus breakfast and lunch were provided! Thank you!

teal ribbon

Finally, if you have read all this and would like to know more about spina bifida, you might be interested in Spina Bifida Association of America‘s teal-colored #BeyondAllLimits hashtag social media campaign to promote October Spina Bifida Awareness Month.

SBAA text

teal ribbon



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Outta The Blue Into October

As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. In today’s digital media saturated world, that amount likely increases tenfold or more. Add to that a compelling photo or graphic, a clever hashtag, or a signature color scheme and we’re on our way to a fully-fledged, viral, call-to-action campaign, promotion, or even a fully-blown social movement!

A quick glance at Wikipedia shows the October calendar in particular to be full of such commemorative observances, all too numerous for sufficient mention. Perhaps most well known is the wearing of pink during various televised athletic events to promote women’s health and awareness of the fight against breast cancer.

This year the Spina Bifida Association of America has launched a lively campaign to spread knowledge about the “neural tube birth defect”, by focusing on the families affected by it, as well as those of us who have lived, thrived, and grown to adulthood with it. To participate you are invited to help turn the “interwebs” blue by sharing a picture or something about yourself or your loved ones while including the hashtag #BEYONDLIMITS.

It’s an easy, clever, colorful, and fun way to learn more about spina bifida and related health and disability issues.

SBAA October 2015

blue october 2015 self photo

Also, coming soon, this Friday, October 9th, 2015 (note new rain date) is the NJ Disability Pride Parade & Celebration. Hope to see you there!

NJDP 2015




The Global Lab of Human Behavior

Quite an uproar a couple weeks ago over Facebook‘s “latest experiment”. Facebook’s brain trust envision a world of “openness” and “transparency” but getting there involves a methodology originally described as “move fast” and “break things”. Perhaps we’ve grown jaded and cynical enough to fully expect a heavy amount of commercial media manipulation throughout out daily lives. Heck, consider the advertising blitz experienced during a typical ballgame. For sure, focus groups, surverys and market research, etc. are integral parts of a robust modern economy.

But this latest “lean in” over our changing moods and emotional states while we surf the web seems to have crossed a line. The “research team” focused on the appearance of certain words in posts and determined them to be either “positive” or “negative”. They customized the newsfeeds viewed by several hundred thousand users and then noted the subsequent frequency of “negative” or “positive” words in posts that the users created in response to what they saw and read.

Maybe most Facebook users aren’t so surprised by this sort of corporate media manipulation, but such behavior probably runs counter to what they expect from their online social experience, when you really get down to it. The whole thing might seem as benign as  ads containing subliminal messages and/or images. It certainly doesn’t approach the malevolent recklessness of the Tuskeegee experiment of the last century. But just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, of course.

Many online media sources have compared the subjects selected to “lab rats”. The project usually involved a single happy or sad word per posting. So the manner in which it was conducted doesn’t really seems very scientific at all. Just kind of creepy in the way that Facebook’s Pokes, Tags and ever-changing privacy policies and user agreements seem creepy. Sort of like that big recipe you tried the other night that didn’t quite work out so you fed the leftovers to the dog so it wouldn’t gunk up the trash before you have a chance to take it out later in the evening. Probably no harm done, but nothing you’d want to brag about either.

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NJCDD Partners in Policymaking 2014

Last weekend, I attended the commencement ceremony for the 2014 NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities Partners in Policymaking training class. Coincidentally, my alma mater (Class of ’80), Rutgers University, also held it’s commencement that same day right across the Raritan River in Piscataway, NJ.

I myself participated in NJ PIP training in 1998. I’ve attended additional commencements, reunions and supplemental training sessions since then, but hadn’t been to a commencement ceremony in a couple of years. If you have ever benefited from participation in this program or similar ones, or have friends or family members who have, then you should re-visit a commencement ceremony now and then.

NJCDD PIP Training Coordinator Dennie Todd

NJ PIP Commencement Speeches!

I also had the opportunity to speak to Project Manager/Diversity Coordinator Jane Dunhamn (pictured above, foreground far right) about an exciting change to one of the many NJCDD projects. The program formerly known as the NJ Monday Morning Project will now become People First NJ! More to come on that, for sure. Should be interesting!

Good luck to the new NJ PIP graduates!

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Post Up!

R. Amos

Isn’t it astounding that we live in world where we can purchase almost anything from the comfort of our desk chairs and even deposit checks using a cell phone camera? Quite frankly, I was even more surprised when I read this story the other day citing the tens of millions of people who don’t even have personal bank accounts:

Elizabeth Warren Proposes Replacing Payday Lenders With The USPS

Such people rely on check cashing stores and payday lending businesses, incurring fees estimated at 10 percent of their income. The Democratic senator from Massachusetts suggests that the United States Postal Service should provide this service. I’m no economist, plaudit, pundit, partisan policy wonk, etc. but I believe this plan has some merit, especially considering that the US Post Office receives a sizable amount of negative publicity nowadays. People depend on postal services less and less for personal correspondence, third class mail, and package delivery in an era of email, social networking, and private sector carriers. This plan might see the postal serivce pull in billions of dollars while providing  additional convenience for millions of people.

Perhaps yet unforeseen obstacles stand in the way of this idea actually working. But it’s nice to see someone in government actually identify a problem and propose a concrete solution without the usual pandering, fear mongering, and grandstanding. There’ll be more to this story for sure. You can bank on it!

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OktoberFIRST Signs o’ the Times & Disability Pride

The 3rd Annual NJ Disability Pride Parade & Celebration will kick off in less than 72 hours. I attended last year’s event for only a few brief moments but this year I’ve planned to stay until the very end! If you can start your weekend early then you should plan to be there too! If not, there are other ways you can help, such as following via your favorite social networks, reading, sharing,  tweeting and re-tweeting about disability issues, and, of course donating whatever large or small amount as you see fit.

Click Here For Answers To Most Event FAQs!

Our New Jersey event derives much of its inspiration from the huge disability pride parade held every summer in Chicago. Our event promises to have its own unique East Coast atmosphere with plenty of entertainment, guest speakers, adaptive sports/recreation personalities, informational booths, etc. Forecasts of pleasant early fall weather at this point seem very encouraging!

Previous Year’s Logo Art by Brian Mazzarella

Whatever connection you may have to persons with disabilites, civil rights activisim, and/or universal human equality, this is an event you should become more and more familiar with in years to come. October is also Spina Bifida Awareness Month and so some of us in attendance will support SBRN by commemorating that.

Thank you for reading. After looking over all the information please share, re-share, tweet, re-tweet, blog, pin, etc. A lot of great things are going on in the world of disability advocacy and the future looks bright, but there is still much to accomplish, so let’s keep up the good work and maintain the conversation!

Oh, and in closing, please take a look at these…

The Accessible Icon Project has created some fine graphic artwork in an effort to push the conversation forward about disability rights and universal human equality in very eye-appealing and elegantly simple fashion. Their website does solicit donations and they offer cool things like logo t-shirts for sale. However, what I really like is that they offer the basic design for free under Creative Commons, which means that the logo can be downloaded for non-commercial use by community members seeking to update the old familiar universal accessibility symbol visible from mall parking spots, theatrical venues, rest room facilities, etc. There’s even a section explaining how to construct stencils to create a wheelchair accessible parking space with that 21st century look! I love what they are doing so please check them out HERE!

Thanks again for reading. See you Friday, October 4th, 2013!

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“The Issues of October”: NJ & The November Disability Constituency

With our national election looming just two weeks from now, residents of our great home state of New Jersey can take advantage this month of a fine informational resource for promoting political issues affecting our disability community, both locally and nationwide. The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities publishes a monthly magazine called People & Families. The current issue, Every Voice Counts, focuses on pertinent political subjects impacting the lives of persons with disabilities in the Garden State.

People & Families November Cover

A highlight of the issue are the statements provided by the various candidates themselves describing their postions on the topics of healthcare, employment, education, and community inclusion, plus their respective viewpoints regarding “vision for the future”. Unfortunately, many of the candidates at the national and congressional level failed to provide a response “as of press time”. Still, the responses of those who did share their views are of very high interest and the remaining pages of the issue contain several good articles discussing the vital importance of greater political involvement by members of the disability community.


I know of many people who have participated in the creation and production of this magazine, and others, like myself, who have enjoyed being the subjects of the regular feature article profiles, often with beautiful photographs. Also, the current inner back page contains a colorful full page graphic concerning the NJCDD’s anti-bullying campaign. It’s all essential reading and also coincides nicely with the final days of October and Spina Bifida Awareness Month.

*View the Current Issue Download Page Here!


spina bifida teal ribbon

**Please come out and help The Spina Bifida Resource Network promote greater spina bifida awareness at our fun event in Gloucester County this November. Just click on the “Teal Ribbon” above or the “Community” tab at the top of this blog for details and ticket information.

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