In 1987, President Ronald Reagan made a public proclamation that the month of March should be recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to “increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.” Though our mission remains largely the same, so much has changed since 1987. While we still aim to increase public awareness, our focus has shifted to the importance of inclusion and living life side by side. This year’s theme is “See Me for Me!” To us, this means looking beyond someone’s disability and seeing them as a person and not just a person with a disability. For the following story, we want you to “see me as your coworker.”
Daniel is 28 years old and has attended United Rehabilitation Services’ (URS) Second Shift Vocational Training Program for six years now. He arrives each day at 2 pm and is part of a comprehensive Pre-Vocational Training Program to develop the work skills needed to prepare him to seek competitive employment in the community.
When Daniel started the program, he was more interested in playing computer games than working. The staff helped him identify his interests and strengths and provided him with a variety of work experiences which sparked the desire to work. Over time, he learned all aspects of floor maintenance from sweeping the floors with a broom, using a mop and eventually learning how to operate the electric floor cleaner.
Daniel is very enthusiastic about his work responsibilities and that fueled a greater purpose in his life and the desire to work harder. This change in his attitude also transcended to his personal life and he started taking better care of himself and has a more positive attitude.
When Daniel expressed an interest in obtaining a job in the community, he asked to be connected with URS’ Employment Services Department. Recently, he successfully completed a community-based work assessment at Ace Hardware in Dayton and did so well, he is now participating in Job Development Services to secure a competitive job in the community.
Daniel is a wonderful example of positive progress that is possible thanks to the commitment URS has made to supporting adults with disabilities on their “path to employment” and achieving greater independence!