Ending Polio: Yes, polio has shaped our lives, too

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-0831_Polio_images_Smithsonian_exhibition.jpgSmithsonian Institution’s online exhibit on the history of polio includes the story of Ron Mace (shown in the photo above) and the story of the Candy Land board game. (CLICK this image to visit the exhibit.)Dr. Baker returns Sept. 5. He welcomes guest writers Patty and Mikayla Thompson, supporters of the Rotary International End Polio Now campaign.
Here is their third story, by Mikayla:

In Part 1 and Part 2 of our series, we told you about polio in other parts of the world, but thanks to an exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution it’s easy to see how dramatically polio affected life here in America. There are reminders of polio in things we may see everyday: a coin, a doorknob or even a kids’ game.

LOOK AT A DIME: If you look at a dime that was made after 1946, you will see Franklin D. Roosevelt. Before the FDR dime, we had the Mercury dime, which had a picture of Mercury from Roman mythology. The picture was changed to honor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who got polio in 1921. Despite that, 12 years later he was elected president in 1933.

LOOK AT A DOORKNOB: In the 1960s and 1970s, Ron Mace founded Design for All. He wanted to make public areas more accessible and usable for everyone, including people in wheelchairs. Mace got polio when he was 9 and used a wheelchair the rest of his life, until his death in 1998 at age 58. He earned a degree in architecture, even though his friends had to carry his wheelchair up and down stairs at his university at the time he was a student. Later, he founded Design For All to show that good designs should let everyone have access to public places. Part of his work was on those doorknobs that you can simply push down, making it easier for a disabled person to enter a room. He also worked on easy-to-use scissors, so someone that cannot exert a lot of pressure can still use them. He also wanted to make it easier to correct errors we might make and, today, we have an “undo” button on many computer programs.

LOOK AT KIDS’ GAMES: Chances are you’ve probably played the game Candy Land at some point in your life. But did you know Candy Land was invented because of polio? In 1940 Eleanor Abbott invented Candy Land. She made it as a way to entertain her and the children around her while they were recovering from polio. One thing that made Candy Land easier to play in hospitals was the use of colored cards to determine your move, rather than dice that easily could fall on the floor. In 1949 Hasbro Games took the idea and started selling it.

Do any of these examples surprise you?

What other ways has polio changed life?

How have ideas like Design For All improved life for you?

Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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