Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Mountain in snow
Mountain in snow from Christmas card designed by Meg Casey
by Meg Casey

Handicapped Recreational Activities

Recreation For The Handicapped

March 30 1983

With the promise of spring comes the promise of some great recreation activities accessible to the physically disabled person.

For a reader disabled by polio and looking for exercise and swimming programs in which she might be able to participate we have this: Starting in April, the Milford Recreation department has arranged for an exercise class. Exercises Will be geared within an individual's range of motion. Sign up begins right away.

A series of art classes will be available that are not only in an accessible location but in an accessible atmosphere too. All of the instructing artists will be looking forward to meeting the possible challenges of adapting their teaching techniques in order to match another person's difficulties due to physical differences.

Introduction to calligraphy: Sign up for the eight-week course is with the Recreation Department.

Basic drawing: A four-week course will be taught in room 105 (the M.I.D.P. office) of the Devon Neighborhood Center, no fee.

This will be the first of a series of mini art courses, each of which will run for approximately four consecutive weeks and be taught by experts working in mediums to be used. Basic drawing, landscapes, portraits, free form clay sculpture, quilting, crocheting, beadwork, and Christmas ornaments.

The Handicapped Outdoorsman

April 6 1983

Frank of Milford, an avid jogger, is looking for a disabled partner to run - or roll away the miles with. He would like to start as soon as possible.

The annual Fishing Derby at the Milford Duck Pond is sponsored by the Sportmen's Rendezvous which stocks the pond with fish for this competition. If there is a big enough response for it a special lift-equipped van will be made available to help out all day.

Sandy Wheelchair

June 15 1983

Dear Meg,

I live in Milford and have a 14-year-old boy. He has Muscular Dystrophy. Billy is confined to a wheelchair.

I used to take Billy to Eisenhower Park to go swimming. Now I can't even do that. I don't know what happened to the swimming area at Eisenhower Park or who is responsible; If anyone thinks it is easy to manipulate a wheelchair because it has wheels I suggest they try to take a wheelchair through sand. At Eisenhower Park the ground was well packed down and I was able to get Billy down to the water.

Why should Billy be denied that which is available to normal healthy children? (God bless them.) It is just like punishing him because he is handicapped. He didn't choose his fate; it just happened. I cannot get him to the public beaches because of the sand. How about making the public beaches accessible to the handicapped?

Better still, reopen Eisenhower Park to swimming. Please!

Thank you for taking time to read this.

Mrs. Jean C.

Dear Mrs. C,

Just keep your swimsuit on ma'am! We've been working on getting the public swimming areas made accessible for accessibility projects to help the disabled citizens of Milford.

Last spring, plans for constructing a portable wooden beach ramp at Walnut Beach were submitted for approval. Also "things" had gone delayed and last summer was lost, I have been assured that the work is finally underway on the ramp "at off-site locations."

As soon as the cement slabs are set for the Pavilion area, which has been added to the original plans, they'll be ready to go. it should be finished "sometime this summer" but no date was given.

We asked why the pool at Foran High wasn't accessible to all of the students who attend school there. Foran's pool is now equipped with a lift and can be used by any person who might need the help of such a device to get in or out of the water safely.

As for the bad conditions at Eisenhower Park, I'm afraid that the infamous floods of June 5 and 6 1982 are to blame again. The rushing waters of overburdened rivers and streams wrecked many areas in town. Unfortunately, the once lovely and solid banks of these waterways were the first things destroyed by the rushing currents.

However, this grey cloud of destruction has proven to have a sterling silver lining for the disabled population because the city of Milford received federal disaster funding to make repairs.

All programs using federal funds must be made accessible to persons with disabilities. (Prior to the floods we could only ask someone to be nice and help get changes made.)

City officials and departments were all notified of the change in status and plans for paved walkways, parking spaces, swimming ramp; and toilet facilities are in the process for this summer as the repair work is being done.

Billy is just beginning that very difficult time in a person's development when peer pressure is the toughest and sometimes painful, when in his situation.

Just continue to love and encourage him to get out and enjoy the many beautiful things the world can have in store for him if he is clever enough to spot the tiny buttercups under the tall weeds in life.

The Walnut Beach Pavilion was named after Meg Casey to honor her work.

Handicapped Pool Chair Lift

August 22 1984

Dear Readers,

Get your bathing suits on everybody because this week's column brings more good news to the disabled populace in the area. The Milford-Orange YMCA on Orange Avenue in Milford has just installed a new: Chair lift in the public swimming pool! According to the first wheelchair bound person to try out the lift at the dedication ceremony, "the water is grand!"

He'll enjoy the cool waters during the hot and sticky days left in our Connecticut August … and then continue to enjoy himself at the "Y" all year round.

The water powered Nolan pool Chair Lift is adaptable to all pools. No electricity is used.

Water pressure from a garden hose provides adequate lift for a 300 pound capacity. It is self operated.

Everything is "all systems go" now, so please do – and we hope to see you there soon, as we all plan fun activities and use this great gift to our community!

The pool lift is no longer listed as one of the features at the Milford YMCA. A phone call will be made to confirm this.

Disabled Disco

May 4 1983

Dear Meg,

I am 19 years old and a sophomore in college.

I'm terrified of being asked to dance. One of my legs is much shorter than the other and because of this I must wear a corrective shoe. I've gotten so that that my limp is hardly noticeable, unless I'm very tired, and I've always been careful about the length of my pants to cover up the thickened sole of my shoe.

"I'm really ashamed of myself for this feeling because I don't think myself as a self-conscious person and I don't act like one – honestly – I've never had trouble getting asked out. As looks go, I'm not bad, but just let some guy ask me to dance when I'm out with friends and I absolutely panic. The crazy thing about it is that I want nothing more than get out there and shake my wares, but I refuse - sometimes too abruptly.

"What's the matter with me?"

D.A.L.

Dear D.A.L.,

I don't think anything abnormal is "wrong" with you. Many, many people can't bring themselves out into view on a dance floor. This is not a phobia that is restricted to disabled individuals. It does take a bit of the exhibitionist in a person to brave the empty dance floor before any other couples join in.

You'll have to decide one day (or night) whether the frustrated urge that has your toes tapping and your head bobbing to music is strong enough to overpower your self-consciousness long enough to give it a try.

I guarantee that there are three types people on every dance floor - those who think everyone in the place is watching them, those who hope everyone in the place is watching them, and those who don't care who watches them. With all that confusion going on, who the hell is going to tell which category you fall into? So fake it, and shake it! It is only hard the first time.

Once boogie fever grips you, within the first few numbers, you'll be carried away with moving to the beat and have forgotten the rest. If not, and you find that your enjoyment of experience is being squashed with embarrassment then, by all means, don't torture yourself. Go sit back down. You tried. But you never know unless you do.

Who knows, maybe you're the next Shirley Temple!

Meg loved to dance and almost got out on the dance floor at a party the weekend she died.

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© 2015 to 2017 site design by Daniel Ortoleva
photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper