Sunday, June 17, 2012

I have had the pleasure of spending most of my life living near bodies of water.  I was born in a city along the Hudson, grew up down the Jersey Shore, came back up to New York to once again live along the Hudson River, and now am spending the summer along the Potomac.   There is nothing more relaxing than the feeling I get from a day in the water.  I am not much of a swimmer, and just sort of doggy paddle and float, but oh what peace it is!  While oceans and rivers are wonderful, my favorite place is the pool.   In fact, going to the pool is my most favorite thing to do.   Nothing is more fun for me than feeling the cool refreshing water on my skin on a hot August day!  Whatever is going on in my life, however troubled I am, whatever pain or discomfort I am feeling, this elixir, the water of life, takes my mind away from everything else.  I leave the pool only at closing (arriving promptly upon opening), feeling rejuvenated and whole.  The water nourishes my mind, body, and spirit; it is tranquility. 

Getting in and out of the pool is the hardest part for me; the ladders are very difficult, and I have fallen on pools that have steps, even breaking eight toes once, however, I am not about to give up the one thing that gives me the greatest pleasure…I just want it to be easier for me to get in.  I WANT EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO GET IN THE POOL WITH ME!  EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO COME IN AND SWIM!   While I am fortunate that some of the pools I go to have zero entry areas, none of them have pool lifts, and that makes me sad!  Pools belong to everyone, and everyone should have equal access, especially when that pool is at a hotel or lodging establishment, where you have paid the same money as people who can access the pool, but you are not able to reap the benefits of what you have paid for and what is rightly yours as a both a citizen and hotel guest.    The original ADA deadline for making public/hotel pools accessible was March 15 of this year;  however, lobbyists for the American Hotel and Lodging Association were successful in pushing that date ahead to January 31st of next year, which means another summer of no swimming for my disabled brothers and sisters.  The arguments lobbyists are making against compliance have been disgusting: from stating that paraplegics will poop in the pool, to saying that pool lifts will cause a hazard to both disabled and non-disabled swimmers.  These arguments are ridiculous.  Last week, I was part of a rally to make our voices heard in front of the AHLA building.  I hope that you will all read the links that Mark Perriello has sent us.  If we all speak out, we can start getting these lifts in.

Fifty four million Americans with disabilities just want to enjoy fun in the pool with our family and friends.  The social aspect of pools, of meeting new friends and enjoying your time in the water together, frolicking, splashing, and swimming, is so important and rewarding.  Swimming is also commonly used as therapy for people with disabilities.  It is exercise, socialization, family time, fun, and most importantly, being able to get into the pool is your right!  I can hardly wait to go swimming this summer; I can feel that cool water as I write this. 

Let’s all go swimming in 2013! 

See you at the pool!


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