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Disability Action Center NW

Ramps, rocks and representation

UI ARGONAUT – Established in 1993, the Disability Action Center NW (DAC) has worked on making Northern Idaho a better place for disabled people. In the past five years, Marketing Specialist Vicki Leeper has seen several positive changes from the border down to Riggins, Idaho, including accessible ramps and trails.

One recent project DAC has been working toward was recently awarded a quality of life grant of $94,458. The money, which comes from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center 2020 Expanded Impact grants program, will be used to expand DAC’s Ramp Up Project to the Moscow area by purchasing aluminum modular ramp systems to loan to people with paralysis.

This type of ramp can be temporarily installed until purchasing a permanent ramp. They are easy to assemble and can be installed within a couple of hours. In addition, they are safe to use in rain and snow and do not require a permit to install or use.

The biggest impact these ramps will make is getting people back in their own homes. Those in nursing facilities may not be able to return home because they do not have ramps installed in or around their homes. Introducing these temporary ramps will give people the opportunity to return home.

This year marks DAC’s 30-year anniversary of service to the community. To celebrate, the center is hiding rocks around Moscow area on Aug. 26. Rocks can be turned in at the DAC office from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The rocks are painted and have specific designs with instructions on how to return the rocks on the back. DAC hid the rocks in popular locations around Moscow, including public access features, parks and curb patches. DAC will give away free hotdogs, chips, drinks and masks near the office’s drive through. T-shirts and hand sanitizer are among the prizes which will be offered to those who return rocks.

The idea was found by stumbling upon a Facebook group called Moscow Rocks, where people paint rocks and hide them around Moscow for others to find. DAC decided to paint 50 rocks to hide around town as part of its celebration.

“You can keep the rocks, or you can re-hide it, and it’s open for everybody,” Leeper said. “It is a way to make it fun to get people outside with a positive activity, you can do even during COVID-19.”

At the end of the event, DAC will put together a photo montage to present to the mayor of Moscow, who has made sure Moscow is accessible and friendly for people with disabilities, according to Leeper.

Emily Pearce can be reached at arg-life@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @Emily_A_Pearce.