Chicago Cultural Center (78 E Washington St)
When 11-year-old Michi finds his estranged father’s address, he can’t believe his luck, but when they meet and Michi discovers that his father, Tom, has dwarfism, Michi and Tom are forced to confront both disability and fatherhood head on.
Panel discussion at 8:30PM.
Gary Arnold (moderator)
Since 1999, Gary Arnold has worked at Access Living, a non-profit disability rights organization for service and advocacy. He serves as Access Living’s Manager of Public Affairs, coordinating the organization’s media outreach, producing the organization’s newsletter The Bullhorn, producing program materials for Access Living’s Annual Gala, and coordinating the Disability Inclusion Institute, an internal disability awareness training program.
From 2011 through July of 2017, Gary served as president of Little People of America, Inc., the largest national organization representing people of short stature. As President, Gary oversaw the operations of the non-profit’s Executive Committee and steered the organization’s policy initiatives, designed to raise awareness about dwarfism and promote equality for people with dwarfism within the general population.
Gary serves as co-chair of the Board of Directors for the Crossroads Fund, a public foundation that supports community organizations working for economic and social justice.
He is the 2012 recipient of the Grassroots Organizer Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities, and is a 2013 Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago.
Kevin Irvine is a disability rights advocate and trainer. Since 2012, he has served as a Director on the Chicago Transit Authority Board. He also is a Board Member of Not Dead Yet, a national, grassroots disability rights group. Previously, Kevin worked at Equip for Equality as its Transportation Advocate and a trainer for its Training Institute for Disability Rights. Kevin has Hemophilia B and HIV and lives in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and 11 year-old daughter, both of whom also have disabilities.
Carleda A. Johnson
Carleda is an emerging leader and advocate in the disability community. Carleda graduated from Chicago State University in spring of 2007 receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. In June 2008, Carleda was hired as Access Living as Independent Living Skills Coordinator where she currently provides a host of tools and services to young adults with disabilities. She is also an expert on training individuals about the independent living philosophy and disability rights movement; she has trained over 100 Personal Assistants on how to work with people with disabilities.
While working at Access Living, Carleda has designed, created, and currently facilitates the Reaching Our Dreams (ROD) program, which utilizes a unique interactive approach to important independent living skills acquisition for youth ages 16- 22 with all types of disabilities. In ROD, youth learn how to access public services, interview for a job, and develop other important skills that will help make it possible for them to live independent and fulfilling lives. As young person with a disability Carleda understands the barriers and discrimination people with disabilities face.
Carleda has been instrumental in growing Access Living’s Financial Stability program. The program raises consumers’ awareness about the benefits of learning how to manage and take control of their financial matters. Through her hard work and dedication, Carleda has established relationships with over 15 banks and community partners to help consumers open checking and savings accounts.
Carleda is also a member of the Integrated Services Committee for Youth/Parents for the Illinois Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics. In her role she has crafted and facilitated several unique presentations for over 100 health care providers designed to provide insight on facilitating a smooth transition for youth and families with special health care needs. Carleda is strongly committed to helping families of children with disabilities become more empowered and knowledgeable about resources available to them.