Friday, July 9, 2010

Here is my speech for the Press Conference last week

Hello, I’m Vanessa Castro. For decades, the people of the United States have been fighting for equal rights and justice for themselves, whether in race, gender or disabilities. Here we are in 2010, and we are still fighting for equal rights. The right for seniors and people with disabilities to choose to live in their own homes.

I first came to Berkeley in 1999 and attended U C Berkeley. One of the main reasons why I love Berkeley and have continued living here is because of In Home Supportive Services Program and my workers. If I didn’t have my IHSS workers, I would not have been able to eat, use the bathroom, shower, get dressed, go to school, and have a normal independent life.

It is insensitive and unconstitutional that Governor Schwarzenegger wants to cut the IHSS program that allows the elderly and people with disabilities to live independently in their own home, where they are loved and cared for. The Supreme Court issued the Olmstead decision in 1999. It said, people with disabilities cannot be segregated from their communities. This means that if Governor Schwarzenegger relegates us to nursing homes, he will be breaking the law. Just yesterday on the news, there was a segment that an employee in a nursing home beat up one of the elder residents. Is that what Governor Schwarzenegger wants to happen to me and the rest of us? Why can’t the state realize that it will be a lot more expensive to force people into nursing homes than to continue *having* In Home Supportive Services workers come to our homes?

Lots of people might ignore me because I have difficulty speaking, but the state and the governor can’t ignore the fact that they will be destroying and ruining people lives and putting us all in danger if we are forced into nursing homes. I am a Berkeley resident, a graduate from the University of Berkeley, an artist, and a member of society. I have had many successes in my life. My latest success is that I just wrote, illustrated, and self published a children’s book. I would not be as successful as I am without my IHSS workers. So I hope the state and Governor Schwarzenegger will find it in their hearts not to cut the IHSS program and demolish our lives. We are real people with families, friends, careers, goals, and dreams, and we absolutely refused to be locked up and institutionalized in nursing homes.

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