Wappingers Falls scholar fights for ADA consciousness

Meghan Lyles understands firsthand the challenges people with disabilities face every day. She lives with cerebral palsy and has had multiple operations for scoliosis.

“I have cerebral palsy, and while I can walk, it’s a disability that causes my muscles to be very tense,” Lyles said. “So I can do more things than I could do a few years ago are still things I can’t do, so if there are places that are inaccessible, how can someone navigate their own environment. “

To mark the 31st anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), students from the Mount Pleasant Blythedale Union Free School District at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla completed a graduation project on the importance and impact of ADA.

Lyles, a 12th grader and day clinic patient in Blythedale, sees the project as a way to raise awareness of the ADA and how it has helped people like her live more fulfilling lives.

What you need to know

  • The ADA came into force on July 26, 1990
  • The law makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities
  • Blythedale Children’s Hospital is New York’s only public school district in a hospital

“I’ve found that the ADA is not understood as you would think,” Lyles said. “People know what it is, but they don’t investigate and they don’t know the kinds of challenges other people face because they don’t have access to where they want to go.”

When it came into force on July 26, 1990, it was illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities.

“This is important to me because I know that just because I have a disability I don’t want to be treated differently, so why someone else,” Lyles said.

For her talk, she researched the history of the ADA and how it has changed the lives of disabled Americans. Then she presented her results to her classmates.

Lyles says she is determined to use her voice to raise awareness about the ADA and the challenges disabled Americans face.

“I think it’s important that we stand up and show that making places accessible to everyone is the right thing to do,” Lyles said.

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