March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 | 3:57pm

Governor Bill Haslam has signed a proclamation designating March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.  Governor Haslam and the Tennessee disability community wish to recognize the valuable contributions made by individuals with developmental disabilities who live, work, play, vote, volunteer and build relationships in our local communities. 

Gov. Haslam shared: "I’m proud of our state’s commitment to increasing opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to pursue their goals, contribute to their communities and live quality lives. From inclusive higher education programs on college campuses, to the Employment First focus of state and community agencies, to the new ABLE TN savings program led by the Tennessee Department of Treasury, there are countless examples of state agencies, community organizations and families working together to make sure Tennesseans with developmental disabilities have the chance to thrive."

“Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month provides an opportunity to reflect on recent public policy successes that are raising the bar for how Tennessee supports and empowers individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Wanda Willis, executive director of the Council on Developmental Disabilities. “Tennessee’s new Employment and Community First program, administered by the Bureau of TennCare, has begun serving hundreds of newly-eligible individuals with developmental disabilities by helping them achieve their employment and community living goals through long-term services and supports. We also applaud the continued efforts of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to transform and improve how disability services can support individuals with developmental disabilities to work and be fully included in their communities. Tennessee has much to celebrate this March!”

Governor's Proclamation 

Whereas, nationwide, approximately 5 million people have developmental disabilities; and

Whereas, in Tennessee, more than 103,000 adults and children have developmental disabilities, and the vast majority of these individuals are primarily or solely supported throughout their lifespan by their families; and

Whereas, people with developmental disabilities share with all Tennesseans the desire to achieve personal success through education, meaningful work, and family and community ties; and

Whereas, people with developmental disabilities deserve equal opportunities to enjoy, participate in and contribute to their local communities alongside their neighbors without disabilities; and

Whereas, Tennessee is committed to recognizing that every person, regardless of perceived ability, has valuable strengths, infinite capacity to learn and make decisions, and the capability to make important contributions to their communities if given opportunities to do so; and

Whereas, Tennessee is therefore committed to encouraging communities and other support structures to promote higher expectations and self-determination for individuals with disabilities; and

Whereas, “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month” is an appropriate time to recognize Tennessee’s public policy accomplishments concerning persons with disabilities and to also identify improvements to public policy that facilitate full inclusion of Tennessee’s citizens with developmental disabilities and their families;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bill Haslam, Governor of the State of Tennessee, do hereby proclaim March 2017 as DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES AWARENESS MONTH in Tennessee and encourage all citizens to join me in this worthy observance. 

[also available via the TN Secretary of State's website]

Celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Visit the Council's Facebook page to view and share this brief video, created with the help of our partners at the Dept. of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, that features many of our Governor-appointed Council members sharing the Governor's DD Awareness Month proclamation.

You can also join us in a national social media awareness campaign called "Side by Side" celebrating March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (#DDawareness17). Learn more about how to participate.

The Council hopes Tennesseans use Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month as a time to learn how they can get involved working alongside individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to transform their communities into accessible, welcoming and supportive places for people of ALL abilities. Tennessee’s communities are stronger and better for everyone when all citizens are not only accepted but also respected for the contributions they make and their strengths, abilities and gifts.

Read a PDF of this press release, which includes additional information about developmental disabilities and the Council.