Public access radio that connects community members to one another and the world
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The next KDNK board of directors meeting is Monday, April 22nd at 5:30 PM. Click here for more details and an agenda.

Garfield County sets sights on community accessibility

kaleb cook

Disabilities and social barriers can take many forms, but if concerns are not brought to light then it can be difficult for local governments to address them. On April 11, Garfield County Public Health is hosting a virtual Accessibility Summit in conjunction with local advocacy groups to learn more from the community about these issues. For KDNK, Hattison Rensberry spoke with Kaleb Cook, Executive Director of Cook Inclusive Company and local disability advocate on some of the concerns the summit is intended to cover.

"Cook: So our main focus right now is really uplifting the disability community in the Roaring Fork Valley. Um, we take a very multi-agency approach where we're working with all different agencies that serve not only people with disabilities, but other historically excluded communities. Um, with the accessibility and inclusion virtual summit, the main hope is to get as many people to the table, whether that be people with disabilities, agencies, executive directors, community members, families of children with disabilities, or just anyone that's really interested in accessibility in the valley.

Our hope is to bring everyone into one room and really have a conversation about what our world in our valley is like right now for a person living with a disability and what we can do together to better support. All people, whether that be physical accessibility, whether that be program accessibility, economic accessibility, just anything that intersects with a person's life and how we can make it better for all people.

This work actually started last May, but our hope is to get people interested in our summit and the work we're doing before the summer. Um, and then the hope is to continue this work for the next year or so, um, with even more community partners, agencies, people with disabilities, um, and really just make sure that we can fully support our people with a collaborative approach.

Rensberry: Sure. What are some community partners that might be at this summit that might provide some enlightening context?

Cook: So this started actually with the core group members. It was the Arc of the Central Mountains, which is Jill Pitcock. She's amazing. She does a lot of work not only for people with disabilities, but for bilingual families in the valley.

She does advocacy in schools and agencies and just everything. Um, if there's something disability related, Jills has her fingers in it somehow, and we're also funded through Garfield County Public Health. So Mason Hold staff is our project lead. He's doing all this stuff to make sure this is an accessible experience for all.

We also are working with Corey Mineo, a local disability advocate, who is also the president of the ARC of Central Mountains. My organization, co Inclusive is also one of the larger founding group members with this work. And then we're also working with Mountain Valley Developmental Service. And that's, that's just the core group members.

We also have an open meeting every two weeks for any agency. So we have a lot of people from out valley, down valley, and anywhere in between coming to work together. Our hope is to make this as open as possible. The summit's goals, one of our like outcomes is to have at least 75% of our agencies that serve people with disabilities attending, and whether that be their executive directors, their direct support professionals, or just anyone that works within the agency or served by that.

Rensberry: Great. Why should people care about this?

Cook: I think there's a lot of reasons to care, and I think everyone has their own personal reason. My personal reason is I think that we live in a beautiful valley with a lot of services, but I think the biggest thing that we're lacking right now is collaboration to make sure that we're filling all the service gaps.

So maybe we have individuals that are able to access recreational therapy, but maybe they're not getting employment services. But that's something that if we start to work together and collaborative, We can start to fully support all people with disabilities and all abilities. Um, I want as many people to be able to thrive, live and work, do whatever they want in this valley.

And if we can make it accessible for all people, then we can have all abilities being able to enjoy the mountains.

Rensberry: Is there anything else that you'd like to mention while we've got the mics on?

Cook: Um, yeah, just, uh, some of the like. Details for the summit. Um, this summit will be held on April 11th from five 30 to seven 30.

This will be virtual on Zoom so anyone can participate. Mason Hold staff has been really smart with language equity, so there will actually be live translation for Spanish and American Sign Language. And then if you do have any other language needs, Please contact us and we'll make sure that that's accommodating to you.

We're also super excited. Brian Alvarez, um, from the Manos Equity Project is also our host for the summit. So we're gonna be able to provide this summit in bilingual services and have Brian's perspective, which is just such an amazing perspective to have, um, when we're talking about accessibility and I.

Anyone is welcome. Um, if you want to sign up, a lot of our agencies have posted this on their social medias, but if you need to find it, cook inclusive on Instagram, uh, cook inclusive, uh, has a link in their bio to register for the summit. If you do have any questions, concerns, comments, you want to get involved, feel free to reach out to me personally.

My email is Caleb,, and we're happy to have you."

Registration for the event is at
and community members can submit their answers to the survey at:

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.
She also provides Editorial Design for the Sopris Sun.