National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is recognized as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. If you or a friend, co-worker, loved one or client has a developmental disability, this month is for you!

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of The Arc in the 1980’s, February 26, 1987 President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613 making March National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with developmental disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives. March is recognized by groups across the country as a time to speak up about the challenges facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families.

Most people have disabilities of one kind or another. The differences lie mostly in degree and whether our disabilities are seen or unseen. We can help remind others of this important celebration during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by sharing these important facts:

Spread the word to your friends and family!

  • Developmental disability is a natural part of the human experience and affects about 4.6 million Americans.
  • All people with developmental disabilities can be productive, contributing members of their communities!
  • Many people with developmental disabilities rely on publicly funded services and supports in order to fully participate in community life.
  • During times of economic decline, essential services and supports for people with developmental disabilities are often threatened.
  • The power of people with disabilities is strongest when their voices are united with each other and their friends, families and other allies.
  • Policy makers can only make good public policy when they hear from the people directly affected by their decisions!

What can you do to advocate for individuals with special needs?

  • Spread the word about Development Disabilities Awareness Month through email, blog, and website updates.
  • Contact local, state, and federal legislators to “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline” – The Arc.
  • Get involved to protect Medicaid services for people with special needs.
  • Learn about essential services for your loved one with special needs.

Everyone wants, and deserves, to enjoy life, feel productive and secure. But in March, we take extra steps to raise awareness about the needs and rights of the people with disabilities and to celebrate their contributions to our communities and society as a whole!

President Reagan’s personal invitation
I invite all individuals, agencies, and organizations concerned with the problem of developmental disabilities to observe this month with appropriate observances and activities directed toward increasing public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.

I urge all Americans to join me in according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

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