“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve
In 1987, Ronald Reagan declared March as National Disabilities Awareness Month. Since that time, there have been huge advances made—both theoretically and practically—around integrating individuals with disabilities into the workforce and into the community. It has been a long, evolutionary process that included passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education that is tailored to their individual needs.
And yet, there is much more work to be done. Stereotypes, stigma, and assumptions remain. The number of unemployed among those with disabilities still remains way too high. And possibly the most problematic—there remains a pervasive underestimation in all that people with disabilities can achieve.
Can you imagine how different the lives of adults with disabilities would be if, as children, their circle of support including educators, the medical community, clinicians, encouraged aspirational thinking? Encouraged them to dream? To strive to achieve what others called impossible? How different would their lives be if we helped their families also believe in all that was possible? If, instead of limiting expectations we fed them? If instead of hinting at no, we shouted an unequivocal yes!
Every day we at The Fedcap Group are working to change the long-term outcomes for people with disabilities. Our work is founded on the following principles:
- We believe in the Power of Possible–that people of all abilities can contribute in profound ways to making this world a better place;
- We believe that it is our responsibility to help those we serve dream big dreams—to aspire to greatness;
- We believe that it is our responsibility to provide tools and resources to support these aspirations; and
- We believe that it is our responsibility to help parents and other caregivers develop the skills to advocate for and encourage their loved ones to achieve their dreams;
Every day, I have the opportunity to interact with people with a diverse array of abilities. I see the contributions and I hear story after story of how diversity of skills and abilities in the workplace increases productivity, perspective, creativity, and innovation.
I believe that we are better when we surround ourselves with people who had their eye on a dream, had to work hard to get where they are and are seeing their dream become a reality. I find this inspirational and it motivates me to keep striving.
Let’s be the one who paves the way, not the one who creates the road blocks.