Jennifer Keelan was determined to make a change―even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but the way the world around her was built made it hard to do even simple things. Like going to school or eating lunch in the cafeteria.
Jennifer knew that everyone deserves a voice! Then the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law that would make public spaces much more accessible to people with disabilities, was proposed to Congress. And to make sure it passed, Jennifer went to the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them.
And, without her wheelchair, she climbed.
ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!
This is an autobiographical picture book about the true story of lifelong activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, her participation in the Capitol Crawl, and her fight for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This was an essential time in history that everybody should learn about. When people read this, I hope they realize just how ridiculous it was that it took so long for this law to pass. Members of Congress at the time said the law was too complicated, too expensive and that it just wasn’t worth it. I can understand the expensive part, but JUST NOT WORTH IT!? They said that helping the disabled participate in everyday life was NOT WORTH IT!?
It just shows that you can’t rely on able-bodied people to do things for disabled people. It is because able-bodied people don’t know what it’s like to need a ramp. They don’t know what it’s like to not be able to walk up the stairs or to be told that they don’t belong because they use a wheelchair.
I may not use a wheelchair, but I know what it’s like to be denied services by people who don’t understand what you are going through. When I was diagnosed with autism at fifteen, the school district had no idea how to help me. They just stuck me in a room with some other odd kids. I was in that room for one period a day every other day, and I still don’t know why or what I was supposed to be doing there. Back then, I was happy to sit there and read and not be surrounded by 30+ loud students (instead, I was surrounded by about seven semi-loud students). Now I realize just how stupid it was. They shoved me aside like I wasn’t worth their time. No one should be treated like they’re less than a person, like their needs don’t matter.
It’s better than it was 30 years ago, but we still have a long way to go in terms of changing people’s views of the disabled.
Be sure to read the forward by Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and the informative passages and timeline in the back of the book.