Everybody Counts and the Chicago-based Great Lakes ADA Network are partnering with the South Shore Convention and Visitor Authority to sponsor an exhibit celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act titled "The ADA: 25 Years and Counting."

The exhibit will be held at the Indiana Welcome Center from Monday, Aug. 24 through Sunday, September 27, and will feature interesting displays, interactive kiosks, an iconic civil rights photo gallery, demonstrations of wheelchair sports, a magic show, historic artifacts, dancing and more.

"We have something for everyone," said Everybody Counts Projects Coordinator Stella Guzman. "It will not only be informative, but also fun."

Special entertainment will be featured every Saturday of the event (aside from Labor Day weekend), and will include the Bulls Wheelchair Basketball Team, Magic Morgan, the Wheelchair Dancing Diva, and a self-defense demonstration by a black-belt wheelchair user.

North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan, Jr. and several other officials will be welcoming special guest Tom Olin, from the "ADA Legacy Tour," during a reception from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27.

Over the past two years, the "ADA Legacy Tour" has visited almost every state, bringing the Freedom Bus and its artifacts to millions of people. Tom Olin is a photo journalist whose works have been featured at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. The Freedom Bus provides an opportunity for local residents to connect to the larger movement through various activities.

Olin's "Access is a Civil Right" photo gallery, on loan from Calvin College, will be on display throughout the ADA exhibit. Featuring iconic black and white photos taken throughout the 30 year struggle for passage of the ADA, the exhibit includes local resident Tom Hendershott.

Olin will be available to share stories and answer questions about the disability rights movement.

On the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 24, activities focusing on local public transportation issues will be sponsored by ACT NOW, a coalition of providers, riders and concerned organizations.

Representatives from local cities and towns will play a live board game of "Transportation Twister," followed by a round table discussion led by officials from Gary Public Transportation Corporation, North Township Trustee's Dial-A-Ride and East Chicago Public Transit.

The public will be invited to tour one of their accessible public vehicles, and will be encouraged to participate in the round table discussions. Following the discussions, attendees can then watch an informative presentation about the "Livable Broadway" project at 3 p.m.

When passed by Congress in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was hailed as landmark legislation that would "level the playing field" for citizens with physical, sensory, cognitive or mental disabilities.

As President George Bush prepared to sign off on the law that many considered the civil rights act for 20 percent of the nation's overall population, he said "Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down."

The ADA included requirements for public accommodations and non-discriminatory employment policies by businesses and local government.

Twenty-five years later, disability rights leaders say that while a lot has changed, there is a long way to go to achieve true equality.

As celebrations are held across the country, a challenge has been issued to local communities to better understand what the ADA is all about - its history and its intended impact.

Sponsors of "The ADA: 25 Years and Counting" invite local residents to visit the exhibition to learn more about how this federal law impacts everyone and how they can help to make our communities more accessible to all.

A "products day" on the last Saturday of the exhibit will feature accessible vehicles, mobility aids and other products for people with disabilities.

Plans are being finalized, and the schedule will be posted on site and at www.southshorecva.com and www.everybodycounts.org. For more information, call 219-989-7770 or 219-769-5055.