Michigan Senate recognizes Disability Awareness & Education Day on Oct. 21

The Michigan Senate will recognize Disability Awareness & Education Day on Oct. 21.

This day is the result of effort by Disability Network Southwest Michigan’s Advocacy Academy, which worked with Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, to make it possible. 

Disability Network Southwest Michigan hosted its 10th year of Advocacy Academy in 2022. Advocacy Academy is an eight-week paid summer position for people with disabilities ages 16-29. 

Five young adults from diverse backgrounds were hired for the 2022 Advocacy Academy group. They spent their first days on the job learning about disability history, pride, and advocacy before choosing an advocacy project to work on as a group.

The group proposed the creation of Disability Awareness & Education (DA&E) Day as a state holiday to be celebrated annually on the third Friday in October. Group members created flyers, brochures, Facebook and Instagram accounts, and a Change.org petition to promote their idea.

“Advocacy Academy provides job experience that is often denied to people with disabilities,” says Disability Network Southwest Michigan Community Education Specialist, Max Hornick. “The group chose to establish DA&E Day because learning about disability history empowered them, and they wanted to give everyone in Michigan the chance to learn about disability culture.”

Senate resolution

The group sent letters to other disability organizations, contacted their state legislators, and met with state Rep. Julie Rogers, D-Kalamazoo, and McCann to seek support. Rogers sponsored the National Disability Awareness resolution. 

McCann introduced a Senate resolution marking Oct. 21, 2022, as Disability
Awareness & Education Day. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which recognizes the important role people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive American workforce.

“I am proud to sponsor this resolution and hope that our adoption of Senate Resolution 167 will honor, celebrate, educate and raise awareness of the rich culture and history of the disability community,” McCann says.

McCann will join the Disability Network Southwest Michigan’s team on Oct. 21 to formally present the resolution of support for Disability Awareness & Education Day. This event is open to the public and will be live-streamed. See Disability Network Southwest Michigan’s Facebook page for details on the live stream.

Disability Network Southwest Michigan is a federally designated Center for Independent Living. Its mission is to walk alongside people with disabilities as they strive for independence, inclusion, and belonging through advocacy and education. Centers for Independent Living are governed and led by people with disabilities. For more information on services and trainings, visit www.dnswm.org.

This article is a part of the year-long series Disability Inclusion exploring the state of West Michigan’s growing disability community. The series is made possible through a partnership with Centers for Independent Living organizations across West Michigan.

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