Monday, July 25, 2011

Step one: getting politicians to care

We call Jordan Klausner Foundation a "disability 360" organization. To us the school, the rehabilitation, the planned civil rights workshop, new forms of therapy, creating more awareness for the handicapped not only intertwine, but are pretty much one and the same. Our goal is to allow people with disabilities to live independent, fulfilling lives in an accepting environment. To empower them to take advantage of all the opportunities before them. It  starts with children.  To succeed in life you need education and  rehabilitation to rely as little on others as possible for as long as you can. As we grow our needs and goals as well as means to achieve them change. And so do the services we provide to individuals with disabilities. But our mission never does as it all stems from the same idea: to help people the best that they can be. By educating people and making them more physically able we reintegrate them into the society. The more active and visible they will be, the more they will be seen as content as successful, the better perceived they will be.  But it all starts with Conductive Education....

It's been a busy couple of weeks at the Jordan Klausner Foundation. As we always struggle financially and the campus on which our school/therapy center is located was sold to CVS (a US pharmacy plaza chain) we have a year to find a new home. And it gets tricky. We need a building that will be zoned for school and while meeting our size requirements is also able to pass the code inspections. There are only few properties that do that in the city. We can't afford to buy a building and investing a lot of money to renovate a rented space is not really a good investment.

Last week we met with Gainesville's "Mayor of Change" Craig Lowe. James Klausner wanted to try to get the city to donate one of the properties it's not using to the foundation  because however bad the shape it's in is, it will be worth it.  We don't want anything for ourselves. We do it to help Gainesville's children. We hope the city can see the benefits our foundation provides. Not only do we educate some of the most difficult to educate kids that many have give up on, but first and foremost we rehabilitate. By making the children more independent, more able, we assist the State of Florida in its' mission, we help produce more active citizens. We succeed where the government has failed.  A few weeks ago I commented on a statistic that put a price tag on Cerebral Palsy: 900,000 dollars per individual. By helping them be more functional we reduce the extent they rely on governmental services and group homes and we drive that cost down. Our Academy in Gainesville is one of the few centers in the State offering Conductive Education for free. Don't you  think that it's a benefit, an asset to the city?

We can't do anything without politicians. That's why I've been meeting with the Equal Opportunity Director, the mayor, marketers to help us form and spread  the message. The governor is following our  Twits and so was conservative hopeful George LeMieux. But can we make them understand that what we do is for the city, the county, rather the to get things from it? Without money, without a new building we will not be able to carry out our mission. Can they truly comprehend and can we fault them if they do not if that's not their experience? It's a complex problem, but I will meet anyone, go anywhere if only they listen to try to make a change until I'm blue in the face.

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