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Gillibrand visits Rochester to learn more about issues impacting people with disabilities

Sep 20, 2019

Senator Gillibrand holds a roundtable discussion at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester on Friday.
Credit James Brown WXXI

Fresh from the campaign trail, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made an appearance in Rochester Friday.   

The New York Democrat held a roundtable discussion at the Center for Disability Rights.

Gillibrand was looking to find out more about issues that are important to people with disabilities. She said conversations with activists when she was on the presidential campaign trail inspired her to take action.

“I had the privilege of meeting with people in the disability community in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire and those advocates were so strong and made such an impression on me it inspired me that I knew as soon as I got back to that I wanted to speak to our disability community to see where New York is falling short,” said Gillibrand.

Willie Jean Arnold uses a wheelchair and is active with School 17 and Charles Settlement House in the Lyell Avenue area. She used her opportunity to speak to the senator to address access to mental health care and self-medication.

“I want to talk about the mental health and drug addiction. It comes hand in hand. Some people get shamed and they don’t get no treatment,” said Arnold. 

Gillibrand said she’s gathering information from meetings like this one from across the state. 

“I got to hear real stories from real people about what’s going on in their lives. What their challenges are, what they’ve overcome and what support they need from the government.”

Willie Jean Arnold waits her turn to speak to Gillibrand.
Credit James Brown WXXI

She said these stories will help her put together legislation to improve the Americans with Disabilities Act and other measures.

Gillibrand says she’s proud of her failed run for president.

“I was so privileged to be able to travel the country and talk about my vision for the country and share some of my best stories from New York from the things that we’re doing well here,” said Gillibrand. “Solutions that we’ve already put in place here that could make a difference in other parts of the country.”