Accessible America Contest opens doors

Accessible America Contest opens doors

The city of Phoenix took top prize in the third annual Accessible America Contest from the National Organization on Disability (NOD), beating 63 other cities to win. The Parks and Recreation Department played a large role in appealing to judges with programs like Daring Adventures, which offers people with disabilities a chance to try a new sport; Clear Path, which trains people 17 and older in finding a job; River Rampage, where teens with disabilities spend a weekend rafting; and the city’s impressive parks and trails, which are easily accessible to any range of disabilities. NOD also praised the aquatic program’s accessible pools.

The judging was performed by six leading disability advocates and experts, who were impressed with the innovation and strategy Phoenix employed when creating disability policies. The city mandated raising the percentage of accessible multi-family dwellings from two to 10 percent, as well as creating a manual to help construction workers consider the needs of people with disabilities during projects.

“As I reflect on the importance of this award, my heart is filled with a tremendous sense of pride,” says Mayor Phil Gordon in a written statement. “Collaboration, cooperation and partnerships are key to the city’s success as an all-inclusive community.”

For their efforts, the city of Phoenix received $25,000 to continue to encourage accessibility, out of which $5,000 will be designated for the park and recreation department. The other contest finalists were: Alexandria, Va.; Austin, Texas; Bloomington, Ind.; Cambridge, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Columbia, Mo.; Fountain Valley, Calif.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles, Calif.; and Miami Beach, Fla.

For more information on the National Organization on Disability or the Accessible America Contest, please visit

COPYRIGHT 2004 National Recreation and Park Association

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