JACKSON, Miss. -- Dee McCardle likes to stay busy.
She spent last week visiting family in Baton Rouge, where the 63-year-old Jackson resident proudly recalled taking her granddaughter shopping.
McCardle plans to return to her former home state of Michigan in a few months to check in on a homeless shelter she helped found.
These things became much more difficult for McCardle just a couple of years ago, when a fall and several health ailments forced her into a wheelchair.
But she got a van lift for her motorized chair just last week and said she's again living the kind of life those without disabilities do.
"We're people, too, just like (others)," she said Saturday while attending a block party in downtown Jackson put on by a host of state agencies and nonprofits marking the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 35th anniversary of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
The Americans With Disabilities Act aims to protect people with physical or mental disabilities from discrimination and requires places like government buildings to provide handicapped-accessible amenities.
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act is designed to provide equal rights to the disabled for a quality education.
Dunaway said there are about 60,000 people in Mississippi with a physical or mental disability, the highest per-capita rate in the country, based on the 2000 Census. She said she wouldn't be surprised if that number is higher when 2010 Census figures are released.