Battle Ground High School senior Maggie Hickey successfully advocated for the installation of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility button on the front doors of the school to help aid people with physical disabilities.
Hickey said it was a four-year struggle that took all of her school years, but she is proud of the work she did, which she said will positively affect disabled students for years to come.
“I feel like I made a difference,” said Hickey. “I feel like I have helped not only kids that are at school now, but kids who will continually be there and use the ADA button.”
She said the process to get the button installed began after principal Charbonneau Gourde met with Hickey and other students in a meeting that focused on how to make the school more accessible. Hickey, who has cerebral palsy, felt the buttons would be the best route to take since she had trouble opening the front door to the high school.
“I saw kids with wheelchairs and kids with crutches struggling to open the door so I asked, ‘why are there no buttons?’ It went on from there,” Hickey said.
She spoke with Gourde who then talked with the superintendent, Hickey said.
“I kept checking in to see if it was done and if it was getting installed,” she said.
The ADA button was installed about two weeks ago, but is not yet operational. Gourde said he hopes to have them up and running in April sometime.
Aside from her advocacy work with the buttons, Hickey also spends time in special education classrooms as she creates relationships with other students.
Hickey’s mother, Tammy, is pleased with her daughter’s accomplishment.
“I’m proud of her advocating for herself and advocating for the other disabled students at the school,” Tammy said. “They haven’t had the ADA button since the school was built, so I’m proud of her.”
She said that Hickey is an amazing daughter. The senior has served as an ambassador at Shriners Children’s Hospital in Portland, which specializes in orthopedics, cleft lip, and palate disorders. Hickey underwent 12 surgeries at Shriners, which helped her be able to walk. Tammy said that experience taught Hickey the importance of advocating for herself.
“She’s strong, she’s independent, she’s smart, and she loves other disabled kids and standing up for them,” Tammy said.
Gourde said he is glad to have witnessed Hickey’s accomplishment firsthand.
“We’re very proud of her,” said Gourde. “She saw something that she thought needed fixing and pursued it through the proper channels.”
He also described her as a natural leader. Although the doors were already ADA-compliant since the buttons are not required in Washington state, Gourde said that as soon as Hickey proposed the idea to him, he agreed with her and consulted the maintenance team immediately.
“Because of her advocacy, this is why it was able to happen and we’re really excited,” he said.
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