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Trojan Football legend Mario Reed helps spread the word about Memphis Center for Independent Living to Millington

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Author and community activist Mario Reed is joining forces with MCIL's Janice Craven about informing Millington residents about the organization.

Author and community activist Mario Reed is joining forces with MCIL’s Janice Craven about informing Millington residents about the organization.

For nearly two decades, Mario Reed has been sharing his story and journey.
Paralyzed from an injury suffered during a football game in 1997, Reed has been transforming his tragedy into triumph by giving back to his Millington Trojan Football program, writing a book about his life and giving his time to organizations like Memphis Center for Independent Living.
“Having resources at the center for the last 18 years since I’ve been paralyzed, I knew the former executive director, Mrs. Debra Cunningham,” Reed recalled. “When I first got paralyzed I reached out to them about some resources for people with disabilities to see how I could get my life back on track.
“Trying to make things a little bit easier for me,” he continued. “I kind of drifted away from the center because I moved away from the area. I kept in touch with some of the people at the center.”
Now one of the people Reed is working with at MCIL is Living Specialist Janice Craven. Last week Craven made the rounds in Millington getting the word out about MCIL.
“We are doing outreach specificity into Millington and Tipton County,” she said. “We work with people who have any sort of disability.
“There are a lot of folks out here in this area who need services,” Craven added. “They don’t know where to go to get them or have any idea of what’s available.”
MCIL has been operation for 30 years and is currently located at 1633 Madison Avenue in Memphis. The organization mission is advocacy in action for people with disabilities like paralyzed, mental illness, diabetes, heart failure and old age.
“Our mission is to integrate people with disabilities into all aspects of community life,” Craven said. “So that is our big picture goal to have people live the lives they want to regardless of disability. We do a lot of advocacy at the center — self advocacy. We teach people how to be assertive without being aggressive about getting what you need. We do a lot of system advocacy too.”
Reed has joined the organization’s peer-to-peer mentor program. Craven is the coordinator of the program and said Reed has been a welcome addition.
Reed, a Millington Central High School graduate, said a conversation with a friends inspired him to take on the responsibility of helping those facing the challenges he knows well.
“Something put it into my heart about a couple of months ago, one of my friends named Darryl Williams came down and spoke at the center,” he recalled. “He and I talked a little while about me going back and going to work for the center. Mainly to expand some of their services and overall just try to get some support going on over there. “
Williams is an advocate in Denver for the disable. About 15 years ago he was confined to his home maybe leaving his residence 10 times a year. An organization like MCIL motivated Williams to reclaim his life and become active.
Now Williams fights for rights for the disable in Colorado and getting resources for those in need. Reed is starting with the MCIL peer-to-peer program heading into nursing homes and helping people transition back into their regular homes.
Craven will be the face of the outreach program for MCIL in Millington. She visits the area once a week and sets up shop at the Millington Public Library.
“Make more awareness of what MCIL is and what is their mission,” Reed concluded. “To make people know there are non-profit who assist people with disabilities with resources and advocacy.”
For more information about MCIL, visit www.mcil.org or call 726-6404.

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