Each year, during March – Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month – the SD Council on Developmental Disabilities, along with the Center for Disabilities at Sanford School of Medicine at USD and South Dakota Advocacy Services focus on peoples’ abilities and similarities rather than differences, and encourages everyone to welcome people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into their communities. Many new opportunities are emerging in this spirit throughout the state, including community-based employment options and residential opportunities that more fully integrate people with disabilities. The 2015 theme for the month reflects this spirit — “Can Do, Like You!”
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has signed a proclamation declaring March as Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness month in South Dakota.
Statewide, and across the nation, organizations devoted to serving individuals with developmental disabilities are planning special events in March to raise public awareness of the many abilities people have, regardless of disability. “Can Do, Like You” encourages people to understand that when people with disabilities are welcomed into local neighborhoods, workplaces, houses of worship, and schools everyone wins. “This is a time when our organization focuses on encouraging the public to better understand the individuals we serve,” said Tim Neyhart, Executive Director of SD Advocacy Services.
“During Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we encourage people to learn more about people in this community who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and to recognize that all of us have talents and abilities that we can offer to make this a better place to live,” commented Arlene Poncelet the Director of the SD Council on Developmental Disabilities.
“This is the month where we celebrate the fact that everyone brings different abilities to the table,” said Wendy-Parent Johnson, Center for Disabilities executive director. “The more diverse our communities become, the better it is for all of us.
Neyhart, Poncelet, and Parent-Johnson encourage everyone to get acquainted with someone who has a developmental disability. “You’ll learn that everyone has something to offer and that when we are all together our communities are stronger, we accomplish more, and everyone wins!” said Neyhart.