Americans first started designating this the month of March as Development Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987 with a declaration from President Ronald Reagan. A lot has changed in the ensuing 31 years, including more inclusion in the workplace and a shift toward independent living as an achievable ambition.
According to the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), the goal for March is to create awareness about developmental disabilities, teach the importance of inclusion within every aspect of life, and to share the stories of individuals with a disability to show that a successful life is possible! This year’s theme is “See Me for Me!” It’s an invitation to look beyond someone’s disability.
So how can you take part? Here are just a few ideas:
- Share on social media. Simply make others aware that it’s Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, or take it a step further and share stories, photos and videos of people with and without disabilities living side by side. Use the hash tags #DDAwarenessday18 and #Seemeforme.
- Thank an advocate. Who has helped you and your loved ones along your journey? Everyone appreciates feeling appreciated; anyone can start to feel burned out. Take a minute to write a thank you note to someone.
- If you have a student, help that student craft a Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month presentation. One idea is to help the class plant a celebration garden with many different kinds of flowers, discussing what makes each one special. You can find more ideas here.
- Encourage disability inclusion in the workplace. First, look in a mirror: Is your company inclusive of people with disabilities? How about the businesses that you patronize? Explore these ideas more here.
- Open an ABLE United account if you haven’t already. Financial empowerment matters! For too long, people with disabilities risked losing their federal benefits if they attempted to build some net worth. Now, people whose disability onset occurred prior to age 26 can open an account that lets them save up to $15,000 annually. Learn more about ABLE United here.
People with disabilities are our friends, neighbors, coworkers and fellow students. Go be seen and celebrated!