October is a big month for the disability community as it is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Month. The theme this year is to empower and accept everyone with disabilities in the work-force. It is important to showcase our talents and participate as working members of the community.
Our goal is to raise awareness of everyone who is differently abled and striving to work in competitive opportunities. These individuals gained the skills and confidence to step into a workplace knowing they had the competitive. Many of these individuals started out by volunteering at different businesses to gain a sense of the structure and future opportunities there may be. As for me, I wanted to work in the library when I was younger so I did a work study and volunteered my services. It was a good starting point to start networking, understand the role and have a sense of accountability.
Being a part of an inclusive workplace reflects the values the company and the individuals embracing diversity uphold. An inclusive workplace gives the perspective of our strengths, talent, creativity and our contributions that we can bring forth.
Currently, I am working with the National Down Syndrome Society as the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy and I am the first registered lobbyist with Down syndrome. I am included in everyday tasks, meetings, email chains and brainstorm sessions. I am treated like everyone else. It ties in nicely with our campaign, #DSWORKS, directly. #DSWORKS is an employment program encouraging companies and business to hire people with Down syndrome, help these individuals find meaningful and competitive jobs and works to increase the opportunity for all people that are differently abled to maintain those positions.
I encourage everyone to start somewhere, gain experience and knowledge and strive to be working members of the community. For more information about #DSWORKS, visit https://www.ndss.org/work/dsworks/.