DEAR ABBY: Somewhere in this great country there's a town or city that will win $25,000 and national recognition by entering the National Organization on Disability's 2003 Accessible America contest. Anyone who feels that his or her community is a model of accessibility -- a place where people with disabilities can fully participate just like anyone else -- should encourage the mayor to enter the contest before the Oct. 31, 2003, deadline.
When communities make the commitment to improve accessibility, all of their citizens and visitors benefit. One-fifth of all Americans have some sort of disability. That's why it is crucial that communities ensure a safe and welcoming environment. The Accessible America contest puts a spotlight on those cities and towns that are leaders in improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.
As vice chairman of the National Organization on Disability (NOD), I urge mayors in towns large and small to place a priority on creating a level playing field for all citizens by providing equal access to their services and facilities. I encourage them not only to share their successes by entering the contest, but also to join NOD's Community Partnership Program on behalf of their constituents. It's a great way to learn how best to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and to get tips on maximizing access and opportunities. -- CHRISTOPHER REEVE
DEAR CHRISTOPHER: Count me among your many fans. I'm pleased to publicize such a worthwhile endeavor.
Readers, the NOD Community Partnership Program is sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation, and the Accessible America contest is sponsored by UPS. I salute both for their community involvement.
To learn more about the contest, call (202) 293-5960 or visit the NOD Web site: www.nod.org. I'll put the name of the winning entrant in my column in December.
DEAR ABBY: I am 16 and attending summer school. My sister, "Maria," is a year older than me. She's new to our school because she just moved here to live with our mom and me. (She was living with Dad, but he kicked her out.)
Since the day Maria set foot on campus, every guy here is after her -- and I know why. She wears skimpy clothes and has a big chest.
Now every boy I like ends up liking Maria instead of me. I'm sick of it. There's only so much a person can take, and I've reached my limit. Do you have any advice for me, Abby? -- EXASPERATED IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR EXASPERATED: I'll begin with some words for your mother, because she is the person who is going to have to deal with your sister. There is a time and a place for everything. Maria is crying out for attention, but she's getting the wrong kind -- and unless there is intervention, she'll wind up in trouble. Your mother should make it her business to find out what is proper attire at your school and enforce the dress code.
Now, some advice for you: Sibling rivalry is normal -- the attention your sister is attracting is transitory. Concentrate on your grades and on activities at which you can excel. That way, you'll be an outstanding individual in your own right and not just "somebody's sister." Trust me, it'll pay off in the end.
P.S. Please clip this column and show it to your mom.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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