Month raises awareness about disabilities

Published 9:24 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Arc of Freeborn County will join other chapters of The Arc, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and friends in raising awareness throughout the entire month of March to recognize Developmental Disabilities Month. The goal of this effort is to let the community see that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are people with real, relatable stories. People with disabilities enjoy time with their loved ones, learning new things in school, challenging themselves at their places of employment and traveling the world. Throughout the month of March, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be raising public awareness about the issues facing individuals with disabilities by sharing part of their personal narrative.

This month we will join hundreds of other chapters of The Arc nationwide and advocate with and on behalf of individuals with intellectual and devleopmental disabilities. Their right to live, learn and work as they choose must not be ignored. These individuals are our neighbors, colleagues, friends and family members, and we must ensure that they have a fair opportunity to achieve their dreams. While there has been much progress over the years, there is still much to be done. We hope the community will join our efforts and help us raise awareness and promote inclusion and acceptance.

Today, in our daily lives we can make changes in how we address individuals with a disability just by how we phrase our sentences: it is the preferred people first language, putting the individual first and foremost before a diagnosis. Examples of people first language:

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Say:  People with disabilities instead of: the handicapped or disabled.

Say:  Jan has a cognitive disability (diagnosis) instead of: She’s mentally retarded.

Say: John has a learning disability (diagnosis) instead of: He’s learning disabled.

Say: Ryan has autism (or a diagnosis of) instead of:        He’s autistic.

These examples show that the person should always come first and the condition is secondary.

Developmental Disabilities Month is our time to make a difference. To learn more about upcoming events contact The Arc of Freeborn County, stop in at 407 E. William St., Albert Lea;  or call us at 507-377-3469.

Upcoming events are as follows:

• April 6: “My Home, My Life” 6-8:30 p.m., free

• April 25: “I have a Dream… It is a Possibility”   conference on person-centered thinking and person-centered planning, which relate to the Olmstead Act. Cost is $10. Register early. Scholarships are available.

Be a volunteer.

Together let’s change hearts and minds in March.

Mary Goetz 

executive director 

The Arc of Freeborn County