Community celebrates ADA’s 25th anniversary with performances; STGnews Videocast

ST. GEORGE — The Red Rock Center for Independence and Dixie State University hosted a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act at a musical concert Thursday night in the Cox Performing Arts Center.

 Ellie Stark sings "God Helps The Outcast," while her aunt, Hollie Reina accompanies her on piano at a celebratory concert, St. George, Utah, March 26, 2015 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
Ellie Stark sings “God Helps The Outcast,” while her aunt, Hollie Reina accompanies her on piano at a celebratory concert, St. George, Utah, March 26, 2015 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

Hundreds of members of the disabled community performed at the concert, singing, dancing and playing musical instruments.

Among those performers was Ellie Stark, a 13-year-old girl with epilepsy.

Stark sang “God Helps the Outcasts,” while her aunt and St. George News Reporter Hollie Reina accompanied her on the piano. Stark said she loves to sing because it brings out emotion.

As a result of her condition, Stark has had many seizures. She said she was grateful to perform in the concert and be recognized as an equal individual.

“People with disabilities don’t get to do a lot of things and (get) pushed around,” Stark said. “People don’t see it. People don’t see it at all and I’m one of (those disabled people).”

Sukcha Choi-Haun, a DSU student with fibromyalgia, performed a dance to the song “You Will Never Walk Alone.” Choi-Haun said the Red Rock Center has been a great asset to disabled people in the community.

Sukcha Choi-Haun performs a dance at a celebratory concert of the 25th year since the America's Disability Act was passed, St. George, Utah, March 26, 2015 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
Sukcha Choi-Haun performs a dance at a celebratory concert of the 25th year since the America’s Disability Act was passed, St. George, Utah, March 26, 2015 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

“Disabled persons and people need this association and privilege to show their talent … and others can feel encouraged by ‘oh, so and so, they do it – well I want to do it too,'” she said.

Julie Goodrich, event organizer and youth coordinator at the Red Rock Center for Independence, said she was very proud of all who performed.

“They all were willing to perform and did such a wonderful job,” Goodrich said.

The master of ceremonies at the event was Brian Middleton, a Iron County School District special education teacher, who was diagnosed with dysgraphia and a nonverbal learning disorder.

Middleton said these disabilities gave his teacher, who diagnosed him, the impression that he would never amount to anything, but he said he proved him wrong as he became a teacher and passed the law school aptitude test after considering to become a lawyer.

The Don't Laugh At Me Players perform songs at a music concert celebrating the 25th year since America's Disability Act passed by the legislature, St. George, Utah, March 26, 2015 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
The Don’t Laugh At Me Players perform songs at a music concert celebrating the 25th year since America’s Disability Act passed by the legislature, St. George, Utah, March 26, 2015 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

“Tonight was great for recognizing people who didn’t have a voice,” Middleton said. “It was not even 50 years ago when people, like these people, would be shoved in a corner and treated like they were nothing.”

The American dream used to have a voice where people could present their thoughts, dreams and ideas without fear of being pushed or controlled by somebody, he said.

“This was the marking of the 25th anniversary of an act that changed the face of America and changed the way people who didn’t have a voice were being treated,” Middleton said.

The ADA is a wide ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The law guarantees equal opportunity in employment, transportation, state and local government services and public.

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