Joan Nielsen and Gil Adrien with a handful of others started in 1978 the North Shore Self Help group, an advocacy and social networking grass roots organization for those living with physical disabilities. This was in a time of the initial development of the disability rights and independent living movement nationally. She, with others, also started the North Shore Transit, a precursor to the current Para-transit services, The Ride, in 1982. Although she had Guillain-Barré disease, which affected Joan’s mobility and other systems, she was a fierce advocate for independent living. She and Gil wanted to follow through on getting services for the North Shore and Cape Ann. She and Gil along with others worked with Charlie Carr, Northeast Independent Living Program Director, and currently the Commissioner for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, to forge the ILC of the North Shore, which took on some of the service areas of the NILP and Boston Center for Independent Living. This was achieved with the ILCNSCA incorporation in 1987.
She understood very deeply the premise of the independent living centers, nothing about us without us, and that we, those of us living with disabilities, must be the leaders and peers for our independence and civil rights. She was a strong role model for living fully and independently.
The funds donated will help to continue her mission.