October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proclaimed October as Disability Awareness Month in South Dakota.

The Department of Human Services joins a broad effort to observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment 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 Laurie R. Gill, Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Human Services. "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."

Reflecting this year's theme, a host of agencies and organizations will be engaging 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:

Oct. 9 – Mitchell, at 5:30 p.m. at the County Fair Banquet Hall. John Robinson will present on "What is Normal". The annual awards ceremony will follow and hors d'oeuvres will be served. For more information, please contact Jen Barnes at (605) 770-9476 or Brenda Martin at (605) 995-8072.

Oct. 9 – Yankton, at 8 a.m. at the Human Services Center (HSC) South Training Center. John Robinson will present to employers and providers on "Overcoming Obstacles and What is Normal?" and at 12 noon he will address students, faculty and general public at Mt. Marty College. Susan Schneider, Jackson Lewis LLP Law Firm, will present on the Americans with Disabilities Act from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the HSC South Training Center. For more information, please contact Jennifer Trenhaile at (605) 668-3050.

Oct. 10 – Brookings, at 12 noon at the Swiftel Center. John Robinson will present to Brookings Area Human Resource Association (BAHRA) and Women in Leadership and Learning (WILL) on "Overcoming Obstacles and What is Normal?" Robinson will also present at the Brookings High School to the student assembly at 1:30 p.m. which will include SDSU students enrolled in the Rehabilitation Counseling Program. For more information, please contact Sylvia Lozada at (605) 688-4282 or Matt Simet at (605) 695-8471.

Oct. 10 – Milbank, at 6 p.m. at the Milbank Community Event Center. John Robinson will present on "Overcoming Obstacles and What is Normal?" An awards ceremony will follow. For more information, please contact Kimberly Hoberg at (605) 882-5150.

Oct. 11 – Aberdeen, 10:30 a.m. at the Ramada Hotel. Featuring John Robinson "Working with Diversities, Disabilities and Limitations" Luncheon will follow with John Robinson providing the keynote; Mayor Mike Levinson presenting the annual awards and panel presentation featuring Kesslers and Avera St. Lukes talking about the benefits of employment. For more information, please contact Doris Lamb at (605) 626-2398.

Oct. 11 – Sioux Falls, at 7:30 a.m. at the Sanford Research Center. Colleen Moran, ADA Coordinator for the City of Sioux Falls will present on the Americans with Disabilities Act and moderate an employer panel speaking to the benefits of hiring qualified employees with disabilities and availability of other resources and services. For more information, please contact Cindy Stewart at (605) 367-5330.

Oct. 11 – Watertown, at 5 p.m. at the County Fair Banquet Hall. John Robinson will present on "Overcoming Obstacles and What is Normal?" The Mayor's Awards will follow the presentation. For more information, please contact Gary Frentz at (605) 882-5130.

Oct. 12 – Madison, two presentations will be held at the Madison Middle School. John Robinson will present "Changing Obstacles & Challenges into Opportunity" at 9 a.m. for high school students/faculty and the 10 a.m. session will target middle school students/faculty. General public is also invited to attend. For more information, please contact Shaun Erschens at (605) 688-4280.

Oct. 15 – Pierre/Ft.Pierre, at 9 a.m. at the AmericInn. Geri Jewell will present on the topic "Diversity." Target audience includes: SD Vocational Rehabilitation, SD Bureau of Personnel and Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce and Central SD SHRM members. For more information, please contact Bernie Grimme at (605) 773-3195.

Oct. 15 – Rapid City, at 5 p.m. at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Geri Jewell will present on "Valuing Diversity." Mayor Sam Kooiker will present "Diversity in the Rapid City Workforce" and introduce the newly formed West River Business Resource Network and members of SHRM. For more information, please contact Margie Helgeson at (605) 394-2261.

October 16-18 – Spearfish, Geri Jewell will be one of the presenters during the Annual 2012 RehabACTion/Transition Fall Conference. For more information, please contact Bernie Grimme at (605) 773-3195.

October 22 – Sisseton, at 3:30 PM at the First Presbyterian Church, Dan Rounds, SD Transition Services Liaison Project, will present "Employment & SSA Benefits Workshop for Youth in Transition" to area youth and parents. An awards recognition dinner will follow including Dan as speaker. For more information, please contact Cindy Kirschman at (605) 626-2398.

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