PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in South Dakota, carrying the national theme “Because We Are Equal to the Task.”
The state Department of Human Services (DHS) joins a broad effort to observe National Disability Employment Awareness Monhttp://www.daubyssportscenter.com/th (NDEAM), an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of NDEAM is to educate the public about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.
The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the 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.
“The Department of Human Services is proud to be a part of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” said Dr. Ted Williams, interim Secretary of DHS. “We want to spread the important message that a strong workforce is one inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities.”
This effort coincides with Gov. Daugaard’s goal of making South Dakota an “employment-first state,” in which employment is the first priority and the preferred outcome for the state’s citizens with disabilities. Bringing this goal into focus is the Employment Works Task Force – comprised of representatives of the disability, business and government communities – which will present a report to the Governor by the end of October, outlining strategies to increase the employment of South Dakotans with disabilities.
Reflecting this year’s theme, a host of agencies and organizations will engage in a variety of activities throughout the month to educate the public on disability employment issues and the role they play in fostering a disability-friendly work culture. These efforts include the following:
Oct. 3, Sioux Falls – At 8 a.m. at the Sanford Research Center (Coyote Room), located at 2301 E. 60th St. N., a breakfast will be held for area employers and providers. Michelle Grimm and Tina Cook from Southeastern Behavioral Health Care will present on “Mental Illness in the Workplace.” DakotaLink and Adaptivations will have booths at the event to demonstrate and display adaptive equipment available for people with disabilities. For more information, please contact Cindy Stewart at (605) 367-5330.
Oct. 7, Yankton – At 10 a.m. at the Yankton Middle School, 2000 Mulberry St., “Handicap This!” will give a presentation. At 7 p.m., a community event will be held at Mount Marty College in Marian Auditorium. Tim Wambach and Mike Berkson will speak about disability issues, breaking down barriers, living with disabilities and living to one’s potential. For more information, please contact Jennifer Trenhaile at (605) 668-3050.
Oct. 8, Mitchell – At noon at the Sherman Center on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus, 120 W. University Ave., a presentation will be made by “Handicap This!” The public is invited to attend. A second presentation will be made at the Mitchell Area Community Theater/Pepsi Cola Theater, located at Seventh and Main. Doors open at 5 p.m.; hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided; an awards presentation will start at 5:30 p.m.; and “Handicap This!” will begin at 6 p.m. “Handicap This!” will present on disability issues, breaking down barriers, living with disabilities and living to one’s potential. For more information, please contact Brenda Martin at (605) 995-8072; an RSVP is encouraged.
Oct. 9, Brookings – “Handicap This!” will present at Brookings High School, located at 530 Elm Ave., beginning at 9 a.m. A second presentation will be given from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. for the Brookings Area Human Resource Association and Women in Leadership and Learning at the Swiftel Center. The presentations will address disability issues, breaking down barriers, living with disabilities and, most of all, living to one’s potential. For more information, please contact Sylvia Lozada at (605) 688-4282 or Matt Simet at (605) 695-8471.
Oct. 9, Milbank – At 6:30 p.m. “Handicap This!” will present at the Milbank Community Center; registration is at 6 p.m. The presentation will address disability issues, breaking down barriers, living with disabilities and, most of all, living to one’s potential. An evening meal and dessert will be prepared and facilitated by individuals involved in a cooking class through LifeQuest. Award recipients will also be recognized. For more information, contact Brigett Wookey at (605) 881-3727.
Oct. 10, Watertown – At 5 p.m. “Handicap This!” will present at the Elk’s Lodge Banquet Hall, located at 600 W. Kemp. The presentation will address disability issues, breaking down barriers, living with disabilities and, most of all, living to your potential. The Mayor’s Awards will follow the presentation. For more information, please contact Gary Frentz at (605) 882-5130.
Oct. 11, Madison, at 9:00 am “Handicap This!” will present at the Madison High School (800 NE 9th Street, Madison, SD) at 9:00 am. The presentation will address disability issues, breaking down barriers, living with disabilities and, most of all, living to one’s potential. The general public is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Shaun Erschens at (605) 688-4280.
Oct. 16, Rapid City – From 5:30-8 p.m., Dr. Richard Pimentel will present at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn. Pimentel is a nationally renowned expert on Disability Management, Job Recruitment, Americans with Disabilities Act and Attitude Change. He is not only technically proficient, but he is also an exceptional communicator whose audiences praise his ability to combine information, humor, metaphor, analogy and storytelling into an informative whole that does not just present the information, but really communicates it in a memorable fashion. For more information, please contact Margie Helgeson at (605) 394-2261.
Oct. 17, Aberdeen – From 3:30-5 p.m., a session will be held at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel featuring Stuart Ellis-Myers. The topic will focus on promoting communication skills, leadership skills and customer service for employers, employees and service providers during the vocational rehabilitation process of employment as well as worker shortage and how people with disabilities can fill those needs. Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen will present awards to local employers and employees. For more information, please contact Doris Lamb, at (605) 626-2398.
Oct. 15-17, Pierre/Fort Pierre – The 2013 Fall Conference, with the theme “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon,” will be held at the Best Western Ramkota. Dr. Richard Pimentel will provide the keynote speech “Wounded Soldiers Returning to Work” during the luncheon on Oct. 16. The Fall Conference is a collaboration of agencies providing presentations in the areas of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Community Employment Services and Transition Services for Students with Disabilities. Sessions will focus on working with veterans with disabilities when they return home and working with students with disabilities as they transition to employment or adult services. For more information, please contact Bernie Grimme at (605) 773-3195.
Oct. 21, Sisseton – At 6 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 202 E. Maple St., an event will be held to recognize employers of people with disabilities. A guest speaker and presentation of certificates will be featured after a catered meal. For more information, please contact Cindy Kirschman or Mike Hauge at (605) 626-2398.
In partnership with its stakeholders, the South Dakota Department of Human Services’ mission is to optimize the quality of life of people with disabilities through the programs and services offered by its divisions. Learn more by visiting the department’s website, dhs.sd.gov, and viewing the 2013 DHS Strategic Plan.