Access Living Staff Associate pursuing his passions

Curtis Harris has many aspirations for his future. Since he became a Staff Associate for the Community Organizing Department at Access Living in November of 2011, he has thrown himself into the work of supporting the rights of people with disabilities. As a staff associate, his day-to-day activities include designing flyers, participating in rallies, attending town hall meetings, and working closely with the healthcare advocacy and policy groups. Curtis is also a dedicated member of Task Force on Attendant Services (TFAS), Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing (DRACH), and Disabled Americans Want Work Now (DAWNN), Access Living groups that work on specific issues of health care, housing and employment. As a Staff Associate and a member of various Access Living groups, Curtis is dedicated to increasing the independence of people with disabilities.

He first became involved with Access Living as a volunteer and member of the youth advocacy program, Advance Youth Leadership Power (AYLP). Talking about getting involved with Access Living, Curtis said, “Access Living opened my eyes up to the disability world. I wasn’t fully aware of it [the disability community] when I was younger.”

During his adolescent years, Curtis said he was actively involved in student government and held various leadership positions. His previous experience gave him the opportunity to share the skills he has acquired with other Staff Associates at Access Living.

In addition to working with Access Living, Curtis is also an athlete. Throughout his life, Curtis has competed in sports. He participated in football and track when he was in high school. One of his most recent aspirations is running in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October. This will be his first marathon. (check out the Marathon Page in ‘related links’)

Curtis is running for Access Living’s marathon team. As one of 13 Access Living runners, Curtis will raise support and build awareness for Access Living. The runners are a diverse group. They are full-time employees, part-time employees, volunteers, or members in the community in many different fields. But all are avid about Access Living’s mission. The Access Living Team allows runners to make their marathon experience both memorable and meaningful. Curtis said, “I am excited to run in the different neighborhoods across Chicago and raise money for Access Living.”

Curtis explained that he has been training twice a week and runs about four miles each time. Because of his dedication to successfully completing the marathon, Fleet Feet Sports donated a pair of running shoes to Curtis. “I was running in old walking shoes before, but now I have real running shoes. They have tons of cushions in them, so it helps me run better,” he said.

Curtis will run in the Rock and Roll Half Marathon on July 22, which he said will give him more practice for the Bank of America Marathon. Looking beyond his time as a staff associate and this year’s marathon, Curtis hopes to participate in future marathons and continue to be an advocate for people with disabilities at Access Living.