From the CEO
Since our last newsletter, the mother of disability rights died at 75 years old. The Washington Post labeled her as “a badass.” March is Disability Awareness Month so how can we let the month come to an end without highlighting the life of Judy Heumann?
Many were first introduced to her in the 2020 Oscar nominated documentary, Crip Camp. She was paralyzed at 18-months when she contracted polio. What followed was a lifelong unrepentant battle for human (Heumann?) rights.
Judy led the longest takeover of a government building in 1977 when, at the age of 29, she was part of the Section 504 sit-in. She sparked what would become a movement resulting in the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
This dynamic woman was the same person who, as a child, was labeled “a fire hazard” when her parents tried to enroll her in a Brooklyn kindergarten. Despite initial opposition from the NYC schools, and only after a lawsuit, she became the first NYC teacher in a wheelchair.
Disability Awareness Month
For Disability Awareness Month, we had people with disabilities fill out a questionnaire so that we could get to know them and share their stories with the community. It's a great insight into the daily lives of disabled people and how they value the same things as those who don't have disabilities. While these are the only people featured in the newsletter, we are going to continue to share stories on our social media for as long as they keep coming. If you or someone you know would like to share your story, fill out the online form.
Max is a 14-year-old who lives in Fort Wayne. He most likes about himself that he is a physically fit athlete with a good personality. His favorite thing to do in the community is play sports and go to the movies or other events with friends. Max describes his greatest challenge to be motivation to do things that he does not like are that challenge him too much. To him, disability is something that makes up a small part of who he is. His mom and dad, teachers, and community are who support him most. One thing he has never tried but would like to do someday is to jump out of an airplane!
Six year old Nolan (left) lives in Fort Wayne with his family. His favorite thing to do in his community is see Pat and Emily at the news station (WANE 15), and see the TinCaps and Komets play. He says that his family is who supports him most and when he grows up, he would like to work at the news station.
Josh is 40 years old and lives in Pleasant Haven Court with 2 roommates in Bluffton. He likes that he is always smiley, nice, and loves music and sports. His biggest challenge is having to wait for others to take him to do things. He's looking forward to learning how to use Wells on Wheels (WOW) transportation so that he can travel on his own. In his community he likes to work, go for walks around town and meet new people. He is currently looking for his next girlfriend to play music to as he would like to one day get married and buy a home for them. While he currently does not have employment due to just moving to his current residence, he is working with a coach to put out a resume and cannot wait to find a new job. To Josh, disability means that it may be hard for him to understand what the word 'autism' means, but he thinks he does 'pretty good.'
by: Joni Schmalzried
A colleague recently talked with me about her concerns when she hears uninformed statements and disparaging comments regarding people with disabilities. She feels very comfortable sharing her knowledge to educate those who have biases based on race or gender. She wanted to make sure she becomes as comfortable with responding when it comes to disability as well. We agreed that the concern is not with the words (disabled, people first, and even more antiquated terms) but with the overarching lack of value that is sometimes expressed.
Our conversation, which continues, leads me down the rabbit hole of disability bias. What better time to address perception than during Disability Awareness month? Though we most often believe that we are fair and equitable in our personal and work evaluations of others, most of us have unconscious or implicit biases. These attitudes and beliefs are usually somewhat automatic and tend to come from personal experiences, upbringing, and media.
Indiana Disability Resource FINDER
by: Vicki Johnson
It’s often said that one doesn’t know what they don’t know until someone shows them what they are missing. Awareness is the significant piece that allows us to see things and work toward understanding.
Disability Awareness Month seeks to raise awareness about including people with disabilities in all areas of community life. It also sheds light on the difficulties that people with disabilities face.
One of those difficulties is that people with disabilities and their support networks have long struggled to find disability-related programs, services, and information available in their communities. That is where Indiana Disability Resource FINDER can help.
Grantee Spotlight: Mighty Money
The Applied Skills classroom at Hamilton Community Schools was excited to employ the Twisted Pen Factory kit and pen molds into their program and did not waste any time getting started. The students decided to use the heart and the dog molds first (the latter being the school’s mascot!) to make pens to sell for a Valentine's Day fundraiser. As part of learning about entrepreneurship, sales and marketing, they created flyers, order forms, and determined a price for their pens. In the first week there were over 100 orders! After creating the first few pens they quickly became experts in the process and soon filled the orders. At the end of the Valentine’s Day fundraiser the students had made close to 300 pens and raised around $400 for their classroom. They made enough to purchase more supplies and begin their next project.
The students are part of the Goodwill and Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Pre-Employment Transition Services Program. This program was funded through an AWSF Mighty Money grant.
You may be wondering about the name of our newsletter. Patti gave a history of the name and its meaning for our organization. You can read all about it here.
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