By Jennifer Kolarik, Brevard Center Career Coordinator
The annual celebration of Disability Employment Awareness Month in October heightens awareness while recognizing the contributions of Americans with disabilities to both our workforce and our society. This year’s theme focused on the vital role that expectations play. It is important that we ensure, as a nation, that both people with disabilities and their employers expect that they will fully participate in our workplaces.
However, expectations are not enough. People with disabilities must also have opportunities to work and access to a wide range of employment choices in order to maximize their talents and abilities.
Excerpts from an article by Thomas Weiss, www.disabled-world.com.
Disability Mentoring Day (Information from www.dol.gov)
Disability Mentoring Day, which began in 1999, is a nationwide effort to promote career development for students with disabilities through hands-on career exploration. Students with disabilities (mentees) are matched with workplace mentors according to expressed career interests.
Mentees experience a typical day on the job and learn how to prepare to enter the world of work. Employers gain an increased awareness that people with disabilities represent an overlooked talent pool. In 1999, there were just 36 student participants and now the program has grown to have over 9,000 participating young adults.
Brevard Center Students Participate
Two Brevard Center students participated in Disability Mentoring Day on October 21st. Matt Graham, an animal lover, helped groom dogs and kittens at the Melbourne Animal Hospital and Zach Lichterman assisted with office duties at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Six more students will participate in a second Disability Mentoring Day on November 5th at sites such as Kennedy Space Center, Department of Parks and Recreation, and Center for Independent Living.
To help increase awareness, we displayed the National Disability Employment Awareness Month posters throughout the Brevard Center in October. In addition, our careers classes and job support groups last month focused on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the issue of disclosure, and disability employment resources.
A highlight of National Disability Employment Awareness Month was learning that one of our students, Ashley Titone, was hired at Southland Suites, an assisted living facility where she has been a dietary intern. Congratulations Ashley!