Saturday, February 20, 2010

Love my FRU!

My First Runner Up to Ms. Wheelchair California is seriously one of the best things that has happened since becoming Ms. Wheelchair California! Jennifer Kumiyama is the cream of the crop if you ask me, and I'm not sure how the judges decided I should win over her. In my opinion, we should have been able to crown TWO Ms. Wheelchair California's! Not only have I gained a wonderful partner in the organization, but I have gained a friendship which was totally unexpected and wonderfully loved! She is all that and a bag of chips! Ha!

Jennifer recently turned 30 years old! For her birthday, she decided that instead of receiving presents, she wanted people to donate the cost of one wheelchair through the organization I work for, Free Wheelchair Mission. Each wheelchair costs only $59.20, and she did a fabulous job at not only raising awareness for the need of wheelchairs, but also raising money towards a cause she is passionate about.

She had so many friends and family there to help set up the event/birthday party, and everyone was extremely interested in the material on each table.
Jennifer found many ways to raise money. One way was by having coffee can coin cans called "Change for Chairs" located at several locations for people at where she works, Disneyland, to contribute. She raised a lot of money that way!

But probably one of the most creative ways I've seen money raised was at the birthday party called the "Dollar Dance!" Anyone who wanted to have a dance with Jenn had to give her a dollar. As you can see, she ended up with more than just one dollar bills - and all for a great cause!

Jennifer, you are amazing, you are a fantastic advocate for people with disabilities, and I am honored to call you not only my First Runner Up this year, but also my lifetime friend. Thank you for all you do!

To check out all that she's done, click here to read her blog about her experiences as First Runner Up to Ms. Wheelchair California 2009!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Great Park - Orange County

There is a great landing strip in Orange County that used to be the El Toro Marine Base. It was built in 1942 and named after the small community near by named "El Toro" which at the time had 130 residents. It has a lot of history behind it, however it was decommissioned in 1999 and has now been voted to become a park similar to Central Park in New York. It instead is called "The Great Park." Though not yet completed, the first attraction built was the balloon ride that takes passengers 400 feet into the air.

Though the front doors to the ticket counter are a little heavy, the counter was completely accessible. After signing a liability agreement (and by the way, it's free to ride the balloon!), I made my way to the holding area where other passengers were also waiting.

It goes REALLY HIGH in the air!!

To get onto the balloon which has a doughnut shape base to it, they have a wheelchair accessible lift that you roll onto, and then the operator pumps it up so it's level to the base of the balloon. Simple and easy.

Once you're up to the top (not that far), you can easily roll right onto the base. I think it may be a little tight of a squeeze for a power wheelchair as I probably only had a few inches of wiggle room on either side, and my wheelchair is 26 inches wide total. Once on, I was unable to turn around, so I was basically stuck looking in the same direction on the same side. Otherwise, people have to climb over you or everyone has to move in a circle so you can go to the other side.

The pilot and I took a picture together! But wait, who's flying the balloon now?!
Overall, I had fun time on the ride and thing for free, you can't beat it! I can't wait to go back and ride it at night time so that I can see all the city lights! Great job, City of Irvine!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Hotel for Crowns!

I had the fun pleasure of visiting a beautiful national landmark in San Diego, CA, the "Hotel del Coronado". There is so much history to this hotel as it was originally built in the 1800's. It even has a resident ghost named Kate!

Kate Morgan checked into the hotel in 1892 - and never checked out. After spending 5 lonely and lovesick days waiting for a man who never arrived, Kate was found dead on an exterior staircase leading to the beach. Today, Kate's spirit seems to have remained at the Del, usually found wandering the gardens or in her former guestroom. She has also been spotted in the gift shop called "Established 1888." I was actually in that gift shop while I was visiting, and you best believe my eyes kept a close look out for a sighting!

Marilyn Monroe also filmed the movie, "Some Like It Hot" at this hotel, and you can find plenty of memorabilia throughout the hotel in tribute to her time here. The tree below was part of a scene in the movie and is a popular place for touristers to take pictures in front of.

As far as accessibility goes, I have to say that for a hotel that is over 100 years old, they have done a fantastic job at keeping the nostalgia of the decade it was built while also trying to make it ADA compliant. I had no trouble at all getting around!

The only odd thing I saw - that has nothing to do with accessibility - was in the accessible restroom. I find it rather odd that there is an ashtray in the restroom! I mean, really... REALLY? Um, ok. Anyway, I had to take a picture of it!

Mistake made by "The View" television show

While watching "The View" this morning, I couldn't believe what I heard come out of Joy Behar's mouth. I actually love their comic relief most of the time and think each cohost can hold her own, but Joy took huge steps back in my opinion when it comes to people with disabilities. You can watch the segment by clicking here. It begins at 18 minutes, 20 seconds. I contacted the show immediately. Read the letter I sent in below, and I encourage you to contact the show as well.

Dear Producers of The View,

My name is Alyson Roth, and I represent the state of California as Ms. Wheelchair California and 2nd Runner Up to Ms. Wheelchair America 2010. I was involved in a near-fatal car accident at the age of 21 years old that left me a paraplegic and dependant on a wheelchair.

I love watching The View and love the insight that each of your cohosts bring to the table. However, this morning, Joy Behar crossed the line when referring to children with disabilities as "retarded." This word is demoralizing and archaic, and in the disability community, it is similar to calling someone who is African American a "nigger." I would never use that word to characterize anyone, and certainly the word "retarded" should not be used either.

My intent in writing this email is to simply educate not only your cohosts, but the entire community that words like "retarded" are not encouraging or uplifting and do not bring us together as a nation united. People with disabilities are educated, smart, funny, loyal, and accomplished individuals just like everyone else and deserve equal respect. Please pass on this information, and I sincerely hope an apology is made on air tomorrow. As said, I love watching The View and it usually is so comical, however my mouth literally dropped when I heard Ms. Behar use that word.

Thank you for your time, and if you'd like further information, please feel free to contact me.


Alyson Roth
Ms. Wheelchair California
Ms. Wheelchair America 2010, 2nd Runner Up

Click here to voice your own opinion to the producers of the show regarding the use of this word. The more people that are educated, the better this world will be! Thank you!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Music Teacher to Disabilites Advocate" Article

This month, I am part of a series called "Second Act" in the magazine from the Graduate School I went to, Walden University. I thought it was a great article and loved working with the photographer, Steve Spartana and his wife, Lisa. If you can't read the article by clicking on the picture, you can also go to it by clicking here.

Thank you, Walden University, for recognizing that sometimes God calls us to other things in life, yet the experiences and education we gained never goes wasted!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

City of Irvine Disabilities Advisory Commission Board

I had the wonderful privilege to speak to the City of Irvine Residents with Disabilities Advisory Board on Tuesday, February 2nd.

Irvine Residents with Disability Advisory Board (IRDAB) was established in 1990 by the Irvine City Council to ensure residents with disabilities have equal access in community life.

This voluntary Board consists of sixteen members. At least 51% of members have disabilities and the remainder of the Board is comprised of residents who have a family member with a disability and/or work in the field of disability services.

Their mission is identifying and recommending programs and services meeting the physical and social needs of residents who have disabilities, regardless of age. The Board provides advocacy and support for programs related to community needs and propose recommendations to a variety of City departments. IRDAB also works collaboratively with vital community organizations.

IRDAB Community Contributions:

v Educate the public about issues that affect individuals with disabilities

v Ensure public access

v Advise Community Services Commission on matters pertaining to persons with disabilities

v Provides community presentations

v Disability friendly business awards

v Disability awareness month

I spoke on behalf of the Ms. Wheelchair California organization, congratulating them on winning the National Organization on Disability 2002 Accessible America Award as well as offering my own suggestions and improvements to the city. They were a great group of people, and I look forward to working with them further in the future to make not only the city of Irvine more accessible, but the rest of California.

Thank you for the great opportunity to speak to a wonderful organization doing amazing things within the city of Irvine and working collaboratively with the City Council so that all people who live in Irvine feel valued and important.