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Tip of the Week: Breaking the Chains

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In 1987, Ronald Reagan proclaimed March to be “National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.” In 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. This act condemned workplace discrimination. It was an attempt to break the chains of stereotypes and prejudices against people with disabilities. The change in law and attitudes provided encouragement and new opportunities.

Today, the questions become, “How can we help adults with disabilities reach their highest potential in their world? How can we better serve a population with physical and cognitive disabilities?” These questions are puzzling, but not hopeless. A few pieces of the puzzle include respect, education, and grant funding.

At some point in our lives, we will meet someone with a disability. Our paths may cross when walking down the street, or brainstorming ideas in the office. When this happens, let your actions and words communicate respect. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the unique God-given gifts and talents of the individual. Celebrate his achievements and support him when he fails. Get involved in community-based activities that benefit those with disabilities.  Talk with your children about how to interact with people different than themselves and more importantly, set a good example.

At the McMillen Center for Health Education, we offer “The Body Talk Series” for adults with special needs and “Learn About You” for teens. Each program incorporates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning strategies. Programs are active, concrete, and hands-on. Topics include hygiene, nutrition, exercise, relationships, and tobacco. Programs can be adapted to fit the work and school environments.

Also, a special “Thank You” to the AWS Foundation for their grant funding. They have made it possible for program development and training in northeast Indiana for youth and adults with special needs.

As we celebrate National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, I challenge you to think about how you can be a piece of the puzzle. How can you help adults with disabilities reach their highest potential? Only you can answer that question.

Have a great week!


Debbie Harvey, RN, BSN, CDE

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