News from the Noteworthy
DDAM Promotes Inclusivity,
Every year in March, we take time throughout the month to recognize people with developmental disabilities as members of our community, coworkers, family and friends for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Developmental disabilities can occur at birth or become present over the development age and can include autism and ADHD, cerebral palsy, learning, language, and intellectual disabilities. You may know or work with someone who has a developmental disability. Today, we live in a much more inclusive society, thanks to the actions of self-advocates and advocates of persons with developmental disabilities, as well as policy changes, and the evolution and growth of organizations like Springbrook. However, there will always be spaces and places that can grow in the scope of their inclusion and diversity, and an equitable workforce is a great place to start.
The Upstate Baptist Home opened its doors in 1925 as a home for orphaned children and was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1941. In 1966, its mission and vision were transformed into providing residential and educational services to people with developmental disabilities, which eventually came to call itself Springbrook. Springbrook has constantly transformed itself and the land around it to accommodate the expansion of the school and residential homes, as it has in the community with day habilitation programs and community homes. We have always been ahead of our time. We have always taken action to support the people in our community.
This month, DDAM is going #BeyondTheConversation to promote awareness and advocate for people with disabilities. For Springbrook, this means reflecting on what we do as an organization and as people who advocate for one another. It means that we move forward as a community and take action to support inclusion and equity for people with developmental disabilities. To do this, we must learn about and understand the everyday barriers the same people face in connecting with their community. Significant barriers include access and equity in employment. When I think about taking action to support inclusion, employment services are a big one, because it brings people of different abilities together within the community and the workplace. It also shows the possibilities when people with disabilities are supported. Further, it illustrates equity in action by working with people from where they are rather than trying to fit them into the box of what most people think a “typical employee” should be.
At Springbrook, we provide services like Supported Employment, Pathway to Employment, and Community Prevocational Services. These services give people who self-direct their care opportunities to seek fulfilling and gainful employment. Each service offers something different. As a result, businesses have partnered with us to hire employees who are ready, willing, and able to do the job with the necessary skills and support. In addition, a person with a disability has found purpose through employment and community.
Look around your workspace and workplace: Do you see an inclusive office or work location? Do you see an equitable workforce, one that is diverse and where persons with a disability have fulfilled a position? Integrated workplaces are the next step in taking action this month. So, what can we do to create change this month and every month beyond March? The time for conversation is over; the time for action is now. So, join us at Springbrook to take that next step… You will not regret it.
Patricia Kennedy is chief executive officer of Springbrook.