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People First of Marshall observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

John Burriss, Vice President; Gina Chevalier, Time keeper; Barbara Freeman, Treasurer; and Larie Hutson, Secretary of People First of Marshall, Mo., met with Mayor Mark Gooden on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, to sign the proclamation noting their participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October. Not pictured: Kelly Ray, President.
People First of Marshall, Mo., a self-advocacy organization for disabilities, announced its participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, which takes place each October. NDEAM is a campaign that "raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities," according to the United States Department of Labor website.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, according to the Department of Labor website, can be traced back to 1945, when congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "Physically" was removed to recognize the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Upon its establishment in 2001, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) took control of NDEAM and has worked to further develop the program ever since.

"When all people are able to contribute and be recognized for their skills and abilities society as a whole reaps the benefits," said Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez. Martinez was born blind and says work is essential to her self-fulfillment and a huge part of who she is.

"We encourage employers of all sizes and all industries to foster workplaces welcoming to employees and potential employees with disabilities. But the responsibility doesn't stop there," said Martinez. "Those of us with disabilities ourselves must understand the intrinsic value of work and the skills and talents we have to offer."

This year's NDEAM theme is "A Strong Workforce is the Inclusive Workforce: What Can You Do?" Reflecting this year's theme throughout the month People First will be engaging in a variety of activities to educate its employees and members on disability employment issues and the role they play in fostering a disability friendly work culture.

"People First of Marshall, Mo., is proud to be a part of this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month," Vice President John Burriss said. "We want to spread the important message that a strong workforce is inclusive of skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities."

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in NDEAM and ways to promote its message by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep.

Contact Kelsey Alumbaugh at kalumbaugh@marshallnews.com

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