March is recognized as National Disability Awareness Month in the United States, and it serves as an opportunity to increase awareness and promote inclusivity for individuals with disabilities. The month is dedicated to celebrating the many contributions and achievements of people with disabilities, while also acknowledging the challenges they face in their daily lives.
This year, Easterseals MORC in Michigan is taking an innovative approach to promote inclusivity and shift the focus from disability to ability with its "See The Good
" campaign. The month-long campaign aims to educate the public on how to interact with individuals with disabilities and see their talents and gifts rather than just their disabilities.
The objective of the campaign is to bring awareness to the unique talents and successes of individuals with disabilities and senior citizens. The campaign encourages people to see the whole person, including their abilities, strengths, power, confidence and light.
Easterseals MORC Vice President of Communication Lindsay Calcatera
Lindsay Calcatera, the vice president of communication, explains that the campaign is focused on seeing ability first and highlighting the talents and gifts that individuals with disabilities possess.
"We serve individuals with a wide range of disabilities," Calcatera says. "Some of them are visible and some of them are invisible. We see people that have intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness or other kinds of learning disabilities, about 21,000 people statewide.”
To provide perspective on this issue, the agency will host a panel of experts, including individuals with disabilities, doctors, parents who have a child with a disability and other guests from various perspectives who will offer insight on how to be more inclusive and engage with individuals who have a disability or who are part of an older generation.
The panel will include:
- Dr. Doru Bali — Easterseals MORC medical director
- Hannah Richey — business owner
- Katie Kogelmann — parent
- Matt Fritzen — advocate and peer mentor
- Kelly Helmreich, RN DIDP — Easterseals MORC intake support coordinator
Calcatera says the educational seminar will give tips on how people can better interact with individuals with disabilities, so that they can also "see the good." Those interested in attending are encouraged to register for the Zoom webinar in advance at: bit.ly/SeeTheGoodWebinar
The "See the Good" campaign promotes recognizing and celebrating the unique talents and successes of individuals with disabilities and senior citizens. The virtual webinar and community challenge provide opportunities to bring awareness and education to the amazing talents of these individuals and to ensure they are recognized for who they are, not just for their disabilities.
Easterseals MORC is promoting inclusivity with its "See The Good" campaign for National Disability Awareness Month.
The campaign’s community challenge, #SHOWtheGOOD, allows companies and teams to complete an act of kindness together. Some ideas for showing kindness include volunteering at local facilities, hosting a fundraiser, planting a garden or flowers, calling someone who may be lonely, offering to clean a loved one's home, helping someone carry groceries, making and/or bringing a meal for someone who may be lonely, or sharing a smile.
Easterseals MORC offers a number of resources on its website during National Disability Month. For children and anyone else with an artistic side, Easterseals MORC has created a "See the Good" Coloring & Activity Book
. The United Spinal Association's Disability Etiquette Guide
includes tips on interacting with people with disabilities — with illustrations by Aneil Rodriguez. In partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Care Network, Easterseals MORC has also created a list of local resources
that can be of use to people with disabilities during March and all year long.
Easterseals Michigan recently merged with MORC (Macomb Oakland Regional Center Inc.), Calcatera's previous employer, to become Easterseals MORC. Easterseals MORC serves about 21,000 people statewide, supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness, learning disabilities, and other mental disabilities.
"We focused specifically on supporting individuals with developmental disabilities," Calcatera describes MORC. "And so now, with Easterseals, we're joined together and it's been really great."
Primarily located in Southeast Michigan, the agency has offices in Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, and Flint, with other offices spread throughout Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties. Learn more about Easterseals MORC and the "See the Good" campaign at https://www.easterseals.com/MORC/