Lisa Erquiaga, the director for the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living, opened the Reno/Sparks Transportation Coalition Forum with a question. “Depending no how you got here today a lot of us take transportation for granted. We just get in the car and go or we take the bus because that’s just what we do. But what if it wasn’t there?”
The forum’s goal was to create a transportation coalition that would focus on and help tackle the problems facing people with disabilities and their mobility. The forum was created from representatives from state centers on aging, Continuum, HIS, in-home care companies, Nevada Department of Transportation, the City of Reno, the City of Sparks, Incline Village Parks and Recreation and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.
David Cyra, Community Transportation Association and is the Region IX ambassador for the United We Ride Initiative, moderated the discussion.
The morning began with each person introducing themselves, their organization and the issues they had dealt with in the past.
Some issues became themes that disparate programs faced again and again.
DeeDee Bossart, from Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, voiced a problem that had almost everyone in the room nodding his or her head in agreement. Because Nevada has so many rural communities or sprawling cities, Bossart said, people on the “outskirt areas” had trouble getting in and out of their homes.
Peggy Cullinane, the transitions coordinator for the Washoe County School District, voiced a similar concern. She works to help people with disabilities in the school district transition into work environments. She said problems with transportation was a significant barrier to students with disabilities successfully getting and retaining jobs.
Although the concern for career and jobs was paramount, Andi Kaylor, from Easter Seals transition program, expressed a unique issue that occurred even earlier. She had dealt with parents who were uncomfortable letting their child with disabilities use the bus system.
April Wolfe, a therapeutic recreation specialist for the City of Reno, had another point of view. She struggled with extending transportation for personal uses. Recreation , as much as a job, helps a person become who they want to be.
As the introductions went on, Cyra, who has worked in any western states and developed training programs in Wisconsin, gave examples of how other states solved similar problems and gave suggestions.
The morning was rounded out with Cyra’s suggestions for creating new systems to help ease transportation for people with disabilities and the institutions that help them.
This afternoon, the group will brainstorm to pinpoint the Reno community’s specific needs and goals.