Partnership will provide Philly's disabled a chance to volunteer at DNC
There’s not a lot that can get Michael Anderson down. The only challenges, he says, is that he had a physical disability: Cerebral Palsy. He makes it clear, however, that he is a talker and it becomes obvious that he is not afraid to voice his concerns when it comes to the political world.
At this year’s Democratic National Convention (DNC), Anderson will be one of many volunteer ambassadors. Anderson's interest in politics started at a young age stemming from his parents who gave worked in the field for so many years.
“After the 2004 Democratic Convention, I really got inspired by Barack Obama because of what he said,” Anderson said. “We’re not blue states, we’re not red states, we are and always will be the United States of America.”
The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee and The Arc of Philadelphia recently announced a partnerships to provide members of Philadelphia’s disabled community, like Anderson, with volunteer opportunities for the DNC. With assistance from the Philadelphia Foundation’s Fund for Children, 100 volunteers with “intellectual and developmental disabilities from the Arc of Philadelphia will assist the Host Committee present the Convention this July, focusing youth leadership within the disabled community.
“I work for so many campaigns it's hard for me to keep track,” Anderson said. “I have a fellowship with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party helping to elect democrats up and down the ticket.”
Anderson enjoys electing politicians who he “agrees with the most” and can usually be found doing phone canvassing at the different campaigns, in addition to whatever else he may be asked to do. He was also team leader for the Obama campaign in 2012 in his neighborhood and was a volunteer in the 2008 campaign.
So far, Obama has been his favorite campaign to work for.
“I love Hillary Clinton too, I actually met her in 1994,” Anderson said. “I went to the White House to speak to her on the failed attempt for health care for children and for everybody. I was so nervous that I cried. After the meeting with her, I had a one on one conversation with her for five minutes.”
At a press conference announcing the partnership between the Philadelphia Host Committee and the Arc, former Pennsylvania Governor Rendell commented on the importance of diversity at this year’s DNC.
“We want to reflect that diversity and people who have special challenges are a segment of our population,” Rendell said. “It can’t and should not be ignored, and there are many challenges to come from the community. We wanted to involve as many Philadelphians as possible with this project because the convention comes to town and it's here for five days and everyone leaves, but the preparations are enormous and what makes a successful convention is the ‘community feeling’ that the host city has.”
Voting is really important no matter what party you are from, Anderson said. Adding that everyone has a voice in the process.
"It’s important for people with disabilities to be involved in politics because if they don’t vote there’s no reason for them to complain," he said.