April 18, 2019  

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Southern Miss Institute for Disability Studies Gulf Park Joins Broad Effort to Observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month

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The University of Southern Mississippi’s Institute for Disability Studies at the Gulf Park Campus (IDS-GP) in Long Beach announces its participation in 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.

"We all have a role to play in — and benefit to gain from — increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities. This year's theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It's about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation," said Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy when announcing this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme, which is "Expect. Employ. Empower."

Reflecting this year's theme throughout the month of October, IDS-GP engaged in a variety of activities to educate its employees and the community on disability employment issues and the role they play in fostering a disability-friendly work culture. These efforts include the hiring of Kevin Galloway as a new recreational assistant.  Galloway was injured in a car accident which left him paralyzed at the age of 17.  “I love how IDS saw my skills and talents over my disability,” said Galloway. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I am so thankful and blessed to be working with IDS.”

"IDS-GP is proud to be a part of this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month," said Ashley-Nicole Ross-Flowers, coordinator of recreational services and assistive technology specialist at the Institute for Disability Studies Gulf Park. "We want to spread the critical message that a solid workforce is one inclusive of the services and abilities of all individuals. I am glad Mr. Galloway accepted the job offer and look forward to his work on the Gulf Park Campus and in the community."

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep/.

For more information on the Institute for Disability Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi, visit http://www.usm.edu/disability-studies.