March is Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is nationally recognized as Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness month. Celebrating the accomplishments and passion of children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), Westmoreland County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Westmoreland County Commissioners and IDD Human Service agencies across Westmoreland County are collaborating to present a calendar of county wide activities throughout the month of March.

These activities will raise awareness that individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities dream the same dreams and have the same hopes as their neighbors and friends. Agencies involved with the month long planning are: Westmoreland Casemanagement & Supports, Inc., Community Living Care, Inc., The Arc of Westmoreland, Clelian Heights, Northwestern Human Services, Lifeswork, Acme, Family Services of Western PA, APS Healthcare, Kiski Valley Opportunities Unlimited, Passavant Memorial Homes, and Diversified Human Services. 0

“We are proud to be celebrating the achievements and contributions to our county of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities,” said County Commissioner Ted Kopas. “Like any other individual, those with developmental disabilities have unique gifts and talents that enhance our families, our communities and our economy. We must all enhance our understanding and tolerance, and embrace the uniqueness of every person.

“As we celebrate we are also rallying together to once and for all end the negative stigmas and stereotypes that marginalize valuable members of our society.”

Special events include the following:

  • Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
    Kathie Snow “Living Real Lives & Dreaming Big Dreams”
    Giannilli’s II, Route 30-Greensburg, PA

RSVP to: http://westmorelandcounty.eventbrite.com (Space is limited)

Kathie Snow is an international motivational speaker advocating on issues involving disabilities. Quoted from her website: www.disabilityisnatural.com , “Since 1991, I’ve presented hundreds of keynotes and in-depth workshops at conferences in over forty-five states and in Canada, for audiences of parents of children with disabilities, adults with disabilities, service providers, educators, and other professionals. In addition, I’ve consulted with disability organizations, human service agencies, and educators; coordinated conferences; and developed training curricula.”

See Kathie Snow’s website for more information about her and the positive influence she has been to inspire for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

  • Wednesday, March 2, 2011

National Spread the Word to End the Word Day

Spread the Word to End the Word is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics, Best Buddies International and their supporters to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed)” and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-word.

The campaign, created by youth, is intended to engage schools, organizations and communities to rally and pledge their support at www.r-word.org in order to promote the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities.

Restaurants throughout Westmoreland County will be supporting these efforts by using “End the R-Word” placemats on their tables on March 2nd, 2011.

  • Saturday, March 5, 2011, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Westmoreland County’s Largest End the R-Word Party!

Westmoreland Mall, Route 30-Greesnburg PA

The word “retard(ed)” hurts millions of people with IDD, their families and friends. On March 5, Westmoreland County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will host an “End the R-Word Party” for county citizens to take the pledge and sign the “End the R-Word” banners that will be center court and at the BonTon end of the Mall – lower level.

Activities include: vendors- including persons with IDD that have handmade articles for sale and display, Allegheny County Consumer Health Coalition photography show, visits with local mascots and a free cookie given to the first 500 people that sign the “End the R-Word” banners. Area personalities will be helping with the banner signing.

For more information of the R-Word campaign, please see their website: www.r-word.org .

  • Friday, March 11, 2011, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Creative Expressions Art, Music & Film Show

Greensburg Garden and Civic Center

RSVP encouraged at http://communitylivingcare.eventbrite.com

Attendees will have the opportunity to browse the “Photo Gallery” spotlighting people with IDD who are ‘living real lives and dreaming big dreams’ in their communities. Over 25 people with IDD have been involved with this project. A variety of artwork and videos created by persons with IDD will be on display as well.

A concert performance by the Community Living Care, Inc.’s Creative Arts and Wellness ensemble will be presented in the auditorium at 10:00 am. The performance will showcase various language and musical styles which demonstrate the unique gifts and talents of each of the performers.

In addition to the above events, a history of Intellectual Disabilities in Westmoreland County will be on display at the Westmoreland Courthouse throughout the month of March. Also on display at the courthouse will be the “Photo Gallery” spotlighting people with IDD ‘living real lives and dreaming big dreams’, as well as “End the R-word” information including opportunities for employees and community members visiting the courthouse to sign to PLEDGE RESPECT.

For more information please contact: Barb Kowalsky kowalsb@westmoreland.swsix.com