Trenton Health Team invites community members with disabilities and those caring for them to share their experiences and concerns about access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing during an online discussion on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at 6 p.m.

“We want to end the exclusion and invisibility experienced by people with disabilities,” said THT Program Manager Stephanie Doering, whose mother uses a wheelchair. “Our listening sessions aim to ensure those with disabilities are at the table, helping to plan programs and policies that affect our community.”

This event is an opportunity for THT and other community service providers to hear directly about barriers — physical and structural — preventing full participation in community life and blocking access to helpful services and health resources.

Eliminating those barriers is the goal of “Collaborating for a Healthy, Inclusive Trenton,” a new THT initiative supported by the New Jersey Division of Disability Services (DDS) to incorporate the skills, contributions, needs, and priorities of those with disabilities into the ongoing work of THT and our community partners.

Trenton residents with disabilities are less likely to access services and support for which they are eligible than those in wealthier communities. Many are unaware services are available, while others are unable to navigate the application system and lack a strong advocate to assist them, if desired, THT has found.

A lack of accommodations also prevents many from fully participating in community life, including civic and neighborhood planning and decision-making. Such exclusion can render people with disabilities virtually invisible to policymakers, Doering said.

Residents who participate in upcoming listening sessions will become an integral part of planning, designs, and service coordination work for the long-term, with the ultimate goal of establishing new community-wide norms that welcome all. These sessions are the first steps in an ongoing effort.

To participate, please register at bit.ly/TrentonListens by Thursday September 9, 2021 and note any needed accommodations. Each participant receives a $50 Visa gift card as our thank-you for helping improve access.