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) and their families, Westmoreland County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Westmoreland County Commissioners, families and IDD Human Service agencies across Westmoreland County are collaborating to present a calendar of activities from February 23, 2013 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 year-long planning are Westmoreland Casemanagement & Supports, Inc., Community Living Care, Inc., ACHIEVA/The Arc of Westmoreland, Mental Health America of Westmoreland County, Northwestern Human Services, East Suburban Citizen’s Advocacy, Family Services of Western PA, APS Healthcare, and Passavant Memorial Homes.

Community outreach continues to be an important part of our efforts. Partnering this year with Seton Hill University, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and St Vincent College, we are able to form a relationship between students and individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities in our community that is dually rewarding, and the skills learned will last a lifetime. The Westmoreland Museum and the Greensburg Art Center will be holding art classes and displaying art created by individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the month of March.

“Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is an opportunity for all of us to respect the uniqueness of every person and better appreciate everyone’s abilities and talents, and share in our common humanity”, said County Commissioner Ted Kopas. “We have so much to learn from our friends with developmental disabilities, if only we allow ourselves. This is our chance.”

Intellectual and Developmental Disability Awareness events include the following:

  • Westmoreland County’s Third Annual “End the R-Word” Celebration!

Saturday, February 23, 2013, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Westmoreland Mall (Route 30-Greesnburg PA)

The word “retard(ed)” hurts millions of people with IDD, their families and friends. On February 23rd, Westmoreland County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will host the Third Annual “End the R-Word” Celebration for county citizens to take the pledge and sign the “End the R-Word” banners that will be located in the Westmoreland Mall center court upper and lower levels. Activities include: hourly entertainment, activities for children and adults, balloon art, and well-known area mascots will culminate in a day of fun, celebration, and awareness. For more information on the R-Word campaign, please see this website: www.r-word.org.


  • National Spread the Word to End the Word Day

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

National Spread the Word to End the Word Day is on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. It 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” table tents on their tables throughout the month of March.


  • Communication Training: Communication is for Everyone: How to Help Support Communication

Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 am – 11:30 am

Ferrante’s Lakeview (6153 State Rt 30 Greensburg, PA)
Provided by the Institute on Disabilities & Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology, participants will learn strategies for supporting someone’s communication efforts, develop their role in supporting effective communication, and discover resources in Pennsylvania for communication supports.


  • Creative Expressions Art & Music Show

Friday, March 15, 2013, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Greensburg Garden and Civic Center (951 Old Salem Road Greensburg, PA)
Attendees will have the opportunity to browse the “Photo Gallery” spotlighting people with IDD who have a creative talent to express through art and music. A talent based music show highlights the day.


  • Movie Night! A Showing of Documentary “Wretches and Jabberers”

Friday, March 15, 2013, 5:00 pm -7:00pm
Greensburg Garden and Civic Center (951 Old Salem Road Greensburg, Pa 15601)
A free showing of “Wretches and Jabberers”, a documentary by Geraldine Wurzburg, explores the myths about autism in an eye opening way. A discussion facilitated by APS Healthcare follows the movie.


  • Communication Mini Expo

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 , 9:00 am – 11:30 am

Ferrante’s Lakeview (6153 State Route 30 Greensburg, PA)
Learn about the latest in Communication Assistance to help yourself, your loved ones, or those you support. Various demonstrations throughout the morning include demonstrations from Apple and TRCIL. A special exhibit entitled “Tell Me Your Story” explores the stories of 5 people who have overcome their communication challenges through a film documentary.


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 “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: Barbara Kowalsky, kowalsb@westmoreland.swsix.com or visit our website westmorelandiddawareness.weebly.com