From Within -- Unprecedented Conference to Empower Women With Disabilities Sponsored by United Spinal Association and Independence Care System

May 14, 2010, 08:41 ET from United Spinal Association

NEW YORK, May 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association and Independence Care System (ICS), are co-sponsoring the first annual conference to improve the lives, health, and well-being of women with disabilities.

The conference titled From Within -- A Discussion About Self-Esteem, Self-Awareness, & Self-Empowerment for Women with Disabilities, will include a variety of workshops to enable women with disabilities to overcome many common obstacles toward a better quality of life.  

Open to the public, From Within attendees will have the opportunity to participate in frank and open discussions on self-image, parenting, fitness & nutrition, dating & socializing, relationships, abuse & domestic violence, and breast health care.

"Women with physical disabilities are invisible in our society.  You seldom see images of women using wheelchairs or other mobility devices in the commercial media.  And the special needs of women with disabilities don't show up in the diversity conversation either.  Our goal is to give women with physical disabilities an opportunity to discuss self-esteem and self-awareness and become empowered to take charge of all areas of their health and lives," says Marlene Harmon-Perkins, United Spinal's VP for Corporate and Donor Relations and an organizer of the event.

"This event is one of Independence Care System's initiatives to address the full range of the healthcare needs of women with physical disabilities," says Marilyn Saviola, ICS Director of Advocacy, who will be among the presenters.  "It will provide a special opportunity for women to think about all the aspects of their lives and health."

One of the event's keynote speakers, Wendy Crawford, who is founder of, a site dedicated to women who use wheelchairs, will talk about "The Raw Beauty Project," an innovative visual arts project designed to inspire the public to create new perceptions, transform stereotypes and break through personal obstacles in expanding awareness of women with physical challenges. Crawford also chairs United Spinal's Women Without Limits Advisory Committee, which is committed to enhancing the lives of all women with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) by identifying and addressing the many issues that are relevant in their lives.

Recognizing the well-documented impediments that women with disabilities face in accessing healthcare, the Greater NYC Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure will also receive the inaugural "From Within" Award during the event for their efforts to improve the lives, health, and well-being of women with disabilities.  This includes their support for ICS's model Breast Cancer Screening Project for Women with Physical Disabilities, now in its third year.

  • The conference is free and open to the public with advance registration. Lunch will also be provided.
  • Saturday, May 22nd from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • ICS Brooklyn Center
  • 25 Elm Place-5th Floor (Btw. Fulton Mall & Livingston)
  • Brooklyn, NY 11201

Other speakers will include Bobbi Linn, author of Ode to a Diet Coke, the harrowing account of the descent of this very independent woman with Cerebral Palsy into the nursing home system and the crucial role of self-empowerment in her struggle to regain her independence; Kelly McAnnany, Esq., Disability Law Center, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, on the challenges of access and the rights of women with disabilities to health care; and Denise Baker, Social Worker with the Non-Residential Domestic Violence Program at Barrier Free Living, NYC's only shelter for disabled adults, on the pressing issue of domestic abuse.

For more information, please visit or call Marlene Perkins at 800-404-2898 ext. 7330.

About United Spinal Association

United Spinal is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ALS and post polio.  It has played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act, made important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.  Membership is free and is open to all individuals with spinal cord disorders.

About Independence Care System (ICS)

ICS operates a nonprofit Medicaid managed long-term care plan in New York City whose motto is: "Adults with Physical Disabilities Welcome Here." Specifically designed to assist Medicaid- and nursing home-eligible adults with physical disabilities or chronic illnesses, ICS works with our members to coordinate the health and social services they need to live independently and participate fully in community life.  In addition to agency as well as consumer-directed home care, ICS provides members with a Spinal Cord Injury Program, a Multiple Sclerosis Program (ICS has been designated a "Center of Excellence" by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society), a state-of-the-art wheelchair fitting and repair program, and a model Breast Cancer Screening Program for Women with Physical Disabilities, funded by the Greater NYC Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  For more, go to

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Marlene Harmon-Perkins

SOURCE United Spinal Association