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Official Launch of ABLE TO CHOOSE Public Awareness Campaign

RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ --- The ABLE TO CHOOSE public awareness campaign,, driven by two years of research into public opinion on people with disabilities, will officially launch February 11, 2009, at the General Assembly in Richmond, Virginia.

"The ABLE TO CHOOSE campaign invites Virginians to join in making all aspects of community life inclusive and welcoming to people with disabilities," said Heidi Lawyer, Executive Director of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (VBPD).

The Commonwealth has a promising opportunity to reform its historical focus on large state institutions and fully transition to a true community-based system of support for its citizens with disabilities, said 83% of Virginians in a recent poll funded in part by VBPD as part of the planning for ABLE TO CHOOSE.

The campaign's launch will include:

8:00am - Coffee break for legislators, administration officials, media, and general public in the 4th Floor East Conference Room - General Assembly Building

11:00am - Lunch delivery to legislators

3:00pm - Candy delivery

At the morning coffee break, legislators will be offered only one choice - black coffee, no cream, no sugar, and no lattes - as a friendly reminder that everyday options for persons with disabilities in Virginia are still limited. The campaign asks legislators and the general public to imagine how they'd feel if they visited a coffee shop or restaurant and were offered few choices. This unimaginable situation, involving something as simple as coffee, represents the reality for many people with disabilities who have limited choices in more important matters - such as where they live and the services that they receive.

Throughout the day on February 11th, the campaign will echo this theme while delivering lunch to legislators, consisting of a menu with only one choice, item #46, representing Virginia's standing as 46th among all states for community-based services for people with disabilities. The day's events, along with the launch as a whole, are designed to inspire the Commonwealth, the media, and the general public to learn more about the importance of ensuring availability of community supports that make us all "able to choose" how we live.

"The ABLE TO CHOOSE campaign will demonstrate that people with disabilities of all types can and do live successfully in communities of their own choice when individually appropriate services and supports are available to them," said Lisbet Ward, Chair of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.

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