Episode 48: Dreaming for All with Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins

Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins: ADA Activist

Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins is a passionate advocate and activist for disability rights. She joined the disability rights movement at age six and at age eight she participated in the famous” Capitol Crawl” protest to support the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In 1990, she received the Americans With Disabilities Act Award from The Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities. Jennifer received her GED in 2002 and an Associate of Arts Degree in 2008 both from Arapahoe Community College before earning a B.S. in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University in 2017.

Today she’s an educator and a motivational speaker; and together with her new illustrated biography “All the Way to the Top, How one girl’s fight for Americans with disabilities changed everything”, she does educational speaking presentations to teach children the importance of the ADA, the Capitol Crawl, and the disability rights movement in American history with a emphasis on education, advocacy, and empowerment. Jennifer is the subject of an art sculpture commemorating the 30th anniversary of the ADA, “All the Way to Freedom” by local artist Gina Klawitter that is currently on display at the Colorado History Center. Jennifer is the brand ambassador for Mobility of Denver and Vantage Mobility International. She is also owner of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins LLC.

Jennifer says she is a bit of a dreamer and a bit of a doer!  

An Activist from a Young Age

Jennifer first heard about disability rights when she was 6 years old. She attended her first protest to help fight for the right for public transportation for those with disabilities. Everyone should be able to have equal access to amenities. She has learned that having a disability is empowering and is excited to continue working for others.

The Capitol Crawl

When Jennifer was 8 years old, she attended a famous protest called the Capitol Crawl. This protest helped pass the ADA Act. Jennifer attended because she wanted to make sure everyone’s voices would be heard.

The ADA is a civil rights law that demands equal access for those with disabilities. But it’s more than just that. It’s a way to empower voices for those who don’t think they’re heard. Jennifer recalls that before the ADA was passed, she could not go a lot of the places that her sister could go. Now, ramps, elevators, grab bars, and more have been added to public places so that every place is accessible. 

Jennifer looks forward to working to enforce these laws in other places such as housing markets.

JKC Legacy

The JKC Legacy’s mission is to empower, educate, and advocate. Jennifer dreams to have the JKC Legacy become the non-profit part of her business. She believes that disability rights should be taught in every school as part of the curriculum. Jennifer works to make this dream a reality!

Middle School Advice

Stay strong and true to who you are and what you believe in! Surround yourself with people who will support you in what you believe. Don’t be afraid to change things. No matter what you put your mind to you can succeed!

Key Takeaways

  • Everyone should have equal access to all areas of society.
  • Your voice can make a change.
  • Embrace who you are and what you believe in.

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