SMILES CIL – “This Is Us” Video Transcript

SMILES Center for Independent Living

Our mission is to support people with disabilities to realize their full potential.

DOUG MILLER, SMILES Assistant Director: SMILES is a center for independent living. And what we do is we work with people with disabilities to assist them to become independent.

BONNIE DANBERRY, SMILES Executive Director: About one in five people in the U.S. have a disability.

DOUG MILLER: Whether that be physical, cognitive, emotional, or sensory, from very young children to older adults.

CINDY HAGEN, past SMILES Board and Citizens for Accessibility member: I, unfortunately, was injured in a car accident, where I sustained a spinal cord injury. But before, I guess, I used to walk just like anyone else and was like just anyone else. But at any given time you can be in the situation that I’m at. But we’re all still human beings.

SAM STANKE, SMILES Citizens for Accessibility member: I have what they call cerebral palsy. I was born this way. And now I’m comfortable enough where it just doesn’t matter anymore. We just get around different.

IONE (RAIN) COX, SMILES Board and Citizens for Accessibility member: SMILES is a place that really cares about what happens to the disabled. And they’ve been instrumental in getting a lot of things done.

BONNIE DANBERRY: We’ve always been committed to providing the services that people with disabilities need. So, we just have that conversation and talk about different areas of their life.

SAM STANKE: If somebody in a wheelchair is new to being in a wheelchair, they’ll show you some ways to adapt.

DOUG MILLER: We do that through a variety of programs. We have independent living skills, peer counseling, and we build ramps for people to get them in and out of their homes.

BONNIE DANBERRY: We also have staff that goes into the schools, so that they know that we can be a resource for them.

DOUG MILLER: For some, it’s job-seeking skills, for others, it might be studying for a driver’s permit so you can eventually get a license and drive to work. They tell us what they want to achieve, and what their goals are.

SAM STANKE: I just like having my freedom. There’s a lot of places here, I can just take my chair and take myself.

BONNIE DANBERRY: We have groups, Citizens for Accessibility, and they’re the ones getting out there creating that awareness of pedestrian safety for everybody in the community.

DOUG MILLER: Unless you depend on a wheelchair or have mobility issues, it’s something you probably don’t ever think of. And one of the things we’re trying to accomplish is to make people more aware of that.

CINDY HAGEN: It’s usually something that’s very minor, that can be fixed. And it’s even something as simple as not blocking a doorway so you can get in.

BONNIE DANBERRY: And our goal is to really involve people that have disabilities to go out and talk about their barriers, whether it’s to the city council, with the city administrators.

IONE (RAIN) COX: I’ve attended the city council meetings when my husband was killed. He was killed down on Second Street by a truck. He was on one of these (points to her motorized scooter). Yeah, I worked three years to get a four-way stop put in there.

DOUG MILLER: And usually any kind of accommodations that are made to improve things for people with disabilities also end up benefiting the general community.

CINDY HAGEN: Just even the change we made last year with 48 hours to 24 hours for people to clear out their sidewalks and curb cuts. Everybody’s going to benefit from it. Anybody can slip and fall.

BONNIE DANBERRY: I think we really achieve our mission because we have a lot of people that work and volunteer for us that have great passion for what they do.

SAM STANKE: We were in the Fun Days Parade for sidewalk safety. I know quite a few people from the crowd so I could hear them shout my name. It was a lot of fun.

BONNIE DANBERRY: We put on and sponsored the Chalkfest just to raise the awareness of looking down and looking at your surroundings and seeing it in a different way.

DOUG MILLER: That bleeds over into the parents who are sitting there watching, too. They get to talk with each other.

CINDY HAGEN: If you get enough people saying the same thing, eventually people are going to start listening to you.

SAM STANKE: It’s gotten better. It’s not all the way better, but it’s improved.

DOUG MILLER: Given equal opportunity, equal access, people with disabilities can be active contributing members of our communities.

SMILES Center for Independent Living
Our mission is to support people with disabilities to realize their full potential.

301 Downtown Plaza
Fairmont, MN 56031

709 S. Front St., Suite 7
Mankato, MN 56001

New Ulm
1618 S. Broadway
New Ulm, MN 56073