Disability activist embraces American civil rights
10/13/2002 5:00 AM
By: Candace Byers

When Leigh Redmond isn't busy with car pool, or raising her two young children, she's an advocate for people with disabilities.

Redmond migrated from war-torn Northern Ireland years ago.

She settled in Austin with her two children and she said she's been able to live the American Dream.

Redmond has challenges like anyone else, but she embraces them.

Greeting her two children as they get off the bus from school begins a long afternoon. The kids are involved in a lot of extracurricular activities - something she would not be able to do if they were still living in Ireland, because Redmond is in a wheelchair.

"Northern Ireland, where I'm from, there are no real civil rights for people with disabilities. Here, if you come to a restaurant or a movie theater or something like that and it's a case of looking to find where the access is. In Ireland, a lot of times, there is no access," Redmond said.

Before the day continues, Leigh helps her children, Karl and Aishling, with their homework.

"I'm a regular person who just happens to have a disability," Redmond said.

That's how Redmond lives her life. She works a full-time job with the University of Texas at the center for disability studies and teaches her children, her neighbors and friends that life doesn't stop just because she's in a wheelchair.

"There's only one shot at life. You can either waste it or you can use it. And, personally, I would rather use it," Redmond said.

An attitude she passes on to whomever she can.

Redmond said she doesn't expect pity from anyone. Her children are happy and she's happy living life.

Redmond said the Americans with Disabilities Act has afforded her and her children opportunities to stay active in the community.

Besides normal stuff like going to the park, pool and movies, Leigh and the children have been to Ireland twice.

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"Events in our past seem to slip further away with time. But what happens when they circle back and meet us head on....in the present? Before we allow ourselves to be consumed by our regrets, we should remember the mistakes we make in life are not so important as the lessons we draw from them.." Outer Limits(Last supper)