Danielle McGill was having trouble getting around town. As a person with Cerebral Palsy, she was unable to drive herself to work or social outings, and she was tired of relying on others for help. She wanted independence. With that in mind, she teamed up with Ann Storck Center two years ago to create A Ride Away, a grant-funded pilot program under the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
This grant focuses on increasing access to healthcare, employment, education and other life-sustaining activities for individuals who are transportation disadvantaged (TD).
“Everyone should have access to their community so we can all be active members in society,” said Danielle. “This includes transportation disadvantage individuals, which includes people like me who have disabilities and others like veterans, the elderly, at-risk youth, and the economically challenged.”
Through the A Ride Away program, Danielle and the Ann Storck Center team use transportation as a means to independence. As their tagline says, “The Journey to Independence is Only A Ride Away!”
Prior to joining Ann Storck Center, Danielle only had experience as a paratransit rider. Soon after launching A Ride Away, she started traveling on all modes of public transportation, including community buses, on-demand transportation services like Uber and Lyft, and cross-county transportation like Tri-Rail and Brightline.
“When I transitioned from a paratransit rider to a multi-mode rider, I was no longer relying on my parents to get around,” said Danielle. “I now use transportation services within my community to do everyday things. It’s feels freeing to own your independence, and transportation is one way to do that.”
Through A Ride Away at Ann Storck Center, Danielle has shared her transportation research and experiences with community agencies, non-profits, and organizations of Palm Beach and Broward Counties. She also educates individuals directly through peer-to-peer Travel Experience Training and the upcoming A Ride Away Guide: An Advocates Guide to Getting Places.
This summer, Danielle is excited to continue educating individuals and community organizations of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. A Ride Away will also be releasing more educational materials, such as the A Ride Away Travel Experience Workbook and the A Ride Away Travel Pocket Guide.
“We ultimately want to expand A Ride Away to all 67 counties across Florida,” explained Danielle. “By having A Ride Away Ambassadors across Florida, we can educate, advocate and inspire TD individuals to travel independently. We can also spread the message of inclusive communities across Florida.”
If you would like to have Danielle McGill present at your organization, provide Travel Experience Training or educational materials, call (954) 584-8000 ext. 324 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.