COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – To honor those during Disability Employment Awareness Month, the mayor of Columbus will ride with a local resident for an awareness campaign.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will ride METRA alongside Jessica Cowell, 31, on Wednesday, Oct. 15. The ride is in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), held each October.
"Today we're celebrating the fact we've had this tremendous investment by our citizens and its going to benefit all of our citizens but here today we're talking primarily about those who have disabilities and use our public transit system," Tomlinson said.
Walking is a challenge for Jessica, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and scoliosis. Cowell lives a busy life and is employed at the Disability Service Center. METRA is her means of transportation at least four times a week for getting to her job, medical appointments and shopping for groceries. The ride with the Mayor will begin at the Transfer Station on Linwood Boulevard.
This year's NDEAM theme is "My disability is one part of who I am," and Mayor Tomlinson thinks this message is important.
"The disabled are valuable contributors to the vibrancy of our community," Tomlinson says. "We continually strive to lessen the challenges they face. This ride will create awareness of the realities and the possibilities."
According to the Columbus Metra Transit System, nearly 30% of the customers riding METRA have some form of disability.
METRA also transported more than 1.1 million customers in FY2015 on its fixed Route and Paratransit buses combined. Columbus Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities helped coordinate the Metra ride with Jessica Cowell and Mayor Tomlinson.
Cowell also says public transportation is a major component for productivity and community participation especially for people with disabilities.
"I've also seen bus ramps, wheelchair accommodations and other assistance that are helpful to people with disabilities," says Cowell. "Another great thing about METRA is that the drivers are friendly and helpful, not just to me, but to all riders."