March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month:
Twenty-six years ago we successfully advocated for March to be declared National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by President Ronald Reagan. And, there is no doubt that we have made tremendous strides to promote and protect the rights of people with I/DD to live, learn, work and play as valued and contributing members of their communities, the real strength of our message comes straight from the individuals we serve. No matter how effective our organization’s advocacy efforts may be, no one is as powerful an advocate for people with I/DD as a person with I/DD.
So, this year during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, The Arc would like to empower all individuals with I/DD to appoint themselves as their own advocates. Becoming a self-advocate simply means protecting one’s own self-interests — demanding respect, reaching out for the services and supports needed to fully participate, and simply making others aware of what it means to be a person with I/DD. When you empower yourself in this way, you can then empower others to join in the cause with you.
All month, we’ll be working to raise awareness about the issues important to people with I/DD. As a self-advocate, you can help us “turn up the volume.” Take this opportunity to empower yourself and empower someone else with some of these simple suggestions:
- Ask everyone you meet: “Did you know that March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month?” This could spark a conversation – a teachable moment – when you can share your experience living with a disability with someone else.
- Consider attending The Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. in April. Each year two days are spent covering current public policy in depth to prepare you for a third day on Capitol Hill actually meeting with your Members of Congress and discussing the issues.
- And help us raise awareness about what’s important to the I/DD community and why. Read these suggestions for getting the word out.