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Interview with the Angela Piazza, the newly crowned Ms. Wheelchair California 2019!

MWCA: First of all, Congratulations on your win!

Angela: Thank you!

MWCA: What was the pageant like? From the perspective of a volunteer and spectator it is lot of fun, but I know it is a lot of work, especially for the contestants. This was your second MWCA pageant. Did you know what to expect, or was it a lot of new stuff this time around?

A: I knew what to expect, but it was still a lot of work to do. There is a lot to do for Nationals, but I am so ready for this adventure.

MWCA: Do you think it helped having gone through it once before?

A: Yes, it did help a little bit, I got a little bit of coaching, but you’re still nervous even though you’ve done it before.

MWCA: Did it go how you were expecting?

A: Yes I was more prepared this time vs. last time. I had a whole year to get ready, I didn’t do it as well as I should have the first time, but getting ready for a whole year really helped. Now I am encouraging everyone you wants to do it, to look into it now, don’t wait till the last minute.

MWCA: What was your favorite moment of the pageant?

A: Being crowned was wonderful, of course. But going through the interviews with the judges, some of the questions really got me to think… obviously my answers were good enough for the judges, but some of their questions really got me to think about things in a new way.

MWCA: Your platform is “transforming policy into practice through the power of self-advocacy.” Where did that come from, and what does it mean for something to go from policy to practice?

A: From policy to practice… it came from talking with Alette, talking with my friend Tammy, talking about things out loud with people. The policies are there but we really need to get them into practice. Some examples of things like… talking to my local city, changing/adding ramps that were needed, these things that might seem like nothing to some, are everything to us. When I put it into practice and request that, I don’t put it all on ADA but encourage them to look at it as our whole community will be served. For example, a mother walking with a stroller and no curbs can make it dangerous for both of us because we would have to be in the street to get down the street, but also the community as a whole. Things have to be enforced.

MWCA: You talk about using networking and determination to achieve your goals. What does determination mean to you in the context of advocacy?

A:. Determination means knowing what you want to go after. If I am being determined to go down to the city hall talk to them… they responded to me with a single email and stopped there. So now I’ve got to go back to them again, and I’ve got to find out what the issue is, and I’m sure I know what the issue is, but… maybe they forgot, most likely the funding isn’t there or they don’t have their contract, and I get that, they have to make sure its a reasonable thing for them. Just the other day I was talking to someone and I pointed out that If they had done it years ago they wouldn’t have to fork up so much money. If they had done it back then when the ADA was passed it would have been thousands of dollars, instead of millions.

MWCA: I understand that you plan to create a list of accessible and affordable housing. So you feel like there is housing out there that people don’t have access to, because they don’t know about it?

A: Exactly. My city keeps telling me we have them… and I say, alright show me them. Show me these accessible units. And the unfortunate part is the ADA actually doesn’t cover housing, it’s under the Fair Housing Act. It’s not part of the ADA, but at the same time, they must be ADA compliant in some manner. It’s kind of confusing. I am also getting the clarification on that. When they are ADA compliant, they make the doors a little wider, etc… but also are the countertops shorter, etc. And if we can encourage even one city from 5 percent to 8 percent accessible housing, it would be great. And I know this is a national issue as well, and other cities need it as much as we do.

MWCA: Well thank you for taking the time to talk with today. We look forward to working with you throughout your reign!

A: You’re welcome! I am excited to represent California as Ms. Wheelchair California 2019!

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