One of the many wonderful things about Eugene, Oregon is the wonderful art we have around.

In January of 2021, after 17 years in the health field I endured a traumatic event that placed me in a wheelchair. I’m also a mother of two amazing children. My youngest child, as well as a friend, accompanied me last week on an adventure in our beautiful city.

We went to the Mid Town Arts Center for a tour of the spectacular and beautiful new building. It’s truly a must see! It is the home of Eugene Ballet. You can also rent the spaces in the Mid Town Art Center. It’s ADA compliant but they truly wanted to know how they could be more accessible. I’m so appreciative that they truly care about being adaptive for all. 

Next we went to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, located on the University of Oregon campus. It was truly wonderful to see all the art and history. Accessibility-wise, the museum was fairly good for a historic, older building. 

Our next stop for the day was at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, located on E 15th St, next to Hayward Field. The hospitality there was absolutely amazing, the vibe was fun and it was so educational. Definitely a great place to go as a family, and accessibility was perfect. Kudos shout out to the museum for having a one hundred percent accessible handicap stall, with the stall door going the correct direction as well as a wonderful handle to be able to pull the stall door closed behind you. 

Unfortunately, we did have a few challenges during our arts tour. We visited a few restaurants where accessibility was extremely difficult — with restrooms that did not accommodate, including a handicap stall that I couldn’t get my wheelchair inside at all. The installation of a grab bar in a stall doesn't make it accessible. Tips for business improvements include keeping garbage cans and busing stations out of narrow hallways, lowering soap and towel dispensers to levels that can be utilized from a wheelchair, maintaining navigable space around tables and chairs and using automatic door buttons. Additionally unkept sidewalks made the journey difficult at times. This is a huge issue for those who have different physical abilities and is one of the main causes for some to stay home and not go places. Please do your part to help keep sidewalks, paths and handicap spaces clear of debris and well maintained.

As Ms. Wheelchair Oregon 2022 America, my platform is “Adapting America For All”. My goal is to educate others that accessibility rights are civil rights and civil rights are human rights. 

We all have the responsibility to make sure everyone feels human and visible. Accessibility doesn't mean re-creating, it means modifying what we have so that it's easier for everyone. If we all work together, we can adapt America For All — for everyone who has any type of different ability.  

Melinda in her tiara and Ms. Wheelchair sash at the entrance to the Mid Town Arts Center.

And I’d like to personally thank Lane Transit District (LTD) for the rides that day. You all are so very appreciated for all that you do for our community.