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  • Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Spreading the word about inclusion

    The Resource Center’s Make A Mark self-advocacy group is a collection of active people who share their thoughts and opinions on issues pertaining to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In recognition of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and “Spread the Word: Inclusion” Month, the group’s members reached out to elected officials and area media outlets to educate them about this important issue. Below is the text of a letter the Make A Mark members sent to the media:

    The Make A Mark Self-Advocacy Group, based out of the Mary Andrews Center on East Chestnut Street in Dunkirk, would like to share this letter to spread awareness about the “Spread the Word to End the Word/Spread the Word: Inclusion” campaign.

    As some of you may know, in the month of March this annual campaign takes place. This campaign has been taking place nation wide since it was founded in 2009 by two college students named Soeren Palumbo and Tim Shriver.  The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of the fact that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities still sometimes face exclusion, social isolation and social abuse in schools, workplaces and communities.  This prevents us as a society from being truly inclusive where we can grow and learn together.

    This year’s theme will be Going All In(clusive).  This means speaking up against the wrong and demeaning use of the R-word (“retard” or “retarded”), as well as speaking up against using this language to demean and hurt people.

    We believe the world would be a better place if people valued, respected and embraced all people and looked at people’s abilities instead of their disabilities.  We also believe it is important to educate people on the importance of inclusion, because people with disabilities are part of what makes a community.

    Our hope as a group is to make more people aware of the isolation and exclusion that many people with disabilities face every day and to encourage people to be a part of breaking the cycle.  You can do this by acting to make your school, workplace and community more inclusive to all by seeking out someone who has been left out or bullied, being a friend or just taking the time to get to know people before making assumptions.

    We not only want you to use the month of March to spread this awareness but would like to encourage all of you to do this all year long by always keeping an open mind; inviting diversity into your discussions; having a safe space for people to talk about their beliefs; and, most of all, remembering that we are all equal and deserve a chance to be included.  The actions you take can help educate others on how to make the world a more inclusive place for all.

    Please help us to Spread the Word throughout the month of March as well as all year long.  We believe together, we can all make a difference.  You can also take the pledge to go all inclusive by logging onto www.SpreadTheWord.Global/Pledge

    Thank you, and remember to take the pledge.

    The Self-Advocates of Make A Mark Group in Dunkirk

    Members of Make A Mark were proud to welcome Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas to one of their meetings, at which the Mayor read a proclamation designating March as “Spread the Word: Inclusion” Month in the City.

    Members of Make A Mark pose with Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas.

    Our efforts to Spread the Word didn’t end there. Beth Ray, a TRC employee who facilitates the Make a Mark group, was successful in persuading production workers at our Dunkirk manufacturing facility to sign the pledge.

    Production workers proudly display their “I PLEDGED” stickers.

    And we put up a large version of the pledge at our administrative offices in Celoron so people could stop by and sign it.

    We thank everyone who supported “Spread the Word: Inclusion” Month!

    200 Dunham Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701