Show You Care: Educating the community during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

KCRG-TV's Emily Schrad shows us how the Arc of East Central Iowa is continuously bringing awareness in this week's 'Show you Care' Spotlight.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 7:07 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - March is Developmental Disabilities Month.

“We’d like to think every month is disabilities awareness month at the Arc, but March is a really special month for us,” said Whitney Alber, Senior Program Manager.

At the Arc of East Central Iowa in Cedar Rapids, Educate, Advocate and Include are the big three things they want the community to know this Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

”I think it’s important for individuals to feel appreciated and respected in the community. And if the community can do that, then they’re very anxious to get out and be active,” said Alber.

Those who are in the Arc family say there’s a lot to love about it.

”I like coming here and seeing my friends. Going to the coffee shop. Going to the stores,” said Melissa Ripple.

”Seeing my friends and playing cards,” said Ann Sorenson.

And there’s one big thing Arc Executive Director Theresa Lewis wants the community to know.

”We also want them to know that people with disabilities have abilities! And can do really great things,” said Lewis.

”I go to the clinic and clean rooms and stuff. I think it’s pretty good to help out each other,” said Sorenson.

Shining a spotlight on the importance of awareness.

”It’s so important for our community to understand what inclusion really means. If you don’t have someone in your life that has a disability, it can be difficult to understand the barriers and challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. That’s why education is so important because if you’re not aware, you can’t make changes,” said Lewis.

Along with bringing awareness during Developmental Disabilities Month, the arc is also expecting to open an inclusive playground this summer.

”It’s so important to have an outdoor place where people can go and play. We’re always encouraging physical activity. We know that people with disabilities have disproportionate health outcomes and so, we really wanted to be able to allow our people to play, to socialize, to be out there and talk and just have a fun time with people of all different abilities,” said Lewis.

Lewis added the playground will be open not only to the Arc family but to the community as a whole as well.

Working to continue to Educate, Advocate and Include not only in March but all year long.

”It’s all about letting people know who our people are. What their talents are. And that diversity, equity, inclusion and access is extremely important for our community to thrive,” said Lewis.