FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Barry C. Taylor, Legal Advocacy Director
(312) 341-0022, ext. 7317, (800) 537-2632
TTY (800) 610-2779
Joanne McC. Schwartz, TBI Project Manager
Public Information Director
Equip for Equality Awarded Federal Grant to Support Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury
CHICAGO (March 11, 2003) -- Equip for Equality has received a $50,000 grant from the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Protection and Advocacy Grant Program for a three-year demonstration project. Joanne McC. Schwartz, who has been with EFE for 15 years, is the new TBI Project Manager.
"Individuals with traumatic brain injury have health and service needs that are often unique from other disability groups," said Zena Naiditch, President and CEO of Equip for Equality. "Of primary importance are the rights of individuals with TBI in securing appropriated education services and treatments, as well as addressing discrimination and other rights violations issues.
"Joanne's association with Equip for Equality is longstanding and her contributions over the years have been significant. I was delighted that she was willing to assume the leadership role for the TBI Project and thus ensure the success of this new initiative."
Addressing the importance of the grant is someone with a very personal interest in TBI. Cathy Ficker Terrill, a former Vice President of the National Brain Injury Association, and current President and CEO of the Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities, herself sustained a traumatic brain injury seven years ago in a head-on car collision. Although she terms her recovery "remarkable," she says that the "residual challenges don't go away."
"It is outstanding that Equip for Equality was selected through a competitive process to launch one of the first advocacy initiates for people with brain injury funded by the federal government. People with brain injury need to have their voices heard and have equal protections and representation," said Terrill.
The grant, which is being administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration, will enable EFE to:
- Identify some of the systemic issues uniquely affecting the Illinois TBI community at large.
- Provide one-on-one self-advocacy assistance to individuals with TBI.
- Provide legal services, resources permitting, to individuals with TBI who fall within EFE's priorities such as employment discrimination, guardianship rights, and abuse and neglect.
- Develop resource information and training in disability rights for individuals with TBI and their families.
An Advisory Council composed of individuals with TBI, family members and service members will meet quarterly to provide input to assist the project in meeting its goals and feedback on its progress.
"We are hopeful that the TBI program will be so successful that it will achieve permanent status among our comprehensive services after expiration of the grant period," said Naiditch.
Equip for Equality is a private, not-for-profit entity designated by the Governor to administer the federal Protection and Advocacy System for safeguarding the rights of people with physical and mental disabilities in Illinois. It is the only comprehensive statewide advocacy organization providing self-advocacy assistance, legal services, disability rights education, public policy advocacy and abuse investigation.
For more information about the TBI Project, call Joanne McC. Schwartz at 312-895-7320, 800-537-2632 or TTY 800-610-2779.