Have you ever wondered what it would be like to step into someone else’s shoes? One of Rockland’s very own non-for-profit organizations BRIDGES will commemorate 35 years of providing services to people with disabilities at its annual “In My Shoes” event on Thursday, May 5th at the Crowne Plaza in Suffern at 6:00 pm. The main sole purpose of BRIDGES is to empower people with disabilities in the community to live as independently as they can and to help remove barriers towards that independence. BRIDGES is one of 41 Independent Living Centers (ILC) operating in New York State under the auspices of New York State Education Department (NYSED).
More than half of BRIDGE’s staff are people with disabilities. They have built a cultured society throughout the years in hopes to make an inclusive environment for those with disabilities. “In My Shoes” is an event designed to dispel that assumption and ensure there is equal access to opportunities so people with disabilities can thrive in Rockland.
In 2019, BRIDGES developed the idea of helping people understand what life is like with a disability by working with Nanuet High School students and having them spend a day in a wheelchair, others with blinders on, and others with hearing impairments. The students said it positively changed their lives. They were able to step into the shoes of what a disabled person may encounter on a day-to-day basis. Ever since, they’ve been invited to additional schools and other facilities to have that important conversation and to bring more awareness to those with disabilities.
Carlos Martinez, the CEO/Executive Director at BRIDGES, said “It’s just about making an investment into BRIDGES and our mission. In asking us the questions and being engaged with us in how we prepare the community to be more accessible and more designed for the disabled community so that they don’t have to go through what they go through today in the future. We can do small things here in our communities to help improve accessibility.”
The event also honors people who have made a significant impact on our community. The 2022 honorees are Dr. Reji Mathew, Ph. D, LCSW, an Expressive Arts Therapist, Educator and Advocate who will receive the Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office Leadership Award; Jeffrey Friedberg MT-BAC, LCAT, from Music for Life Creative Arts Therapy who will be honored with the Empowerment Award; and Garner Arts Center will receive the Access Award.
Corporate sponsors include Anchor Media Services, Atlantic Office Technology, Lia Toyota of Rockland and PDI. Individuals and corporations who wish to support the event and the agency’s mission can make a donation through the BRIDGES website at www.bridgesrc.org or by calling Nanci Goldman, Director of Special Events, at 845-624-1366, Ext 127.
Registration Ends on April 29th; tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased at www.bridgesinmyshoes2022.eventbrite.com.