WHEREAS, according to the 2016 Disability Status Report from Cornell University, nearly 12 percent of Virginians, over one million individuals, have a diagnosed disability; and
WHEREAS, people with disabilities have made profound contributions throughout history, but they have not typically been included in history books or studied by children during their school years; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth is committed to lifelong learning and the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion for people of all abilities, races, ethnicities, religions, and genders; and
WHEREAS, educating children and the public about the many contributions and achievements of people with disabilities leads to greater awareness of shared history, values, and societal beliefs that can facilitate full inclusion into all facets of community life; and
WHEREAS, beginning in 2009, in response to advocacy by high school students with disabilities, the Virginia General Assembly resolved that October be set aside as an annual, month-long observance of the history of the disability rights movement, and commemoration of the achievements of those with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, Virginians with disabilities have been successful in reducing barriers in education, employment, healthcare, recreation, and civic life by advocating for changes in laws, policies, and practices that discriminate; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth acknowledges these efforts and will continue to implement the vision statement put forth by the youth who advocated for this monthly designation: to create a culture of mutual respect, understanding, and equal opportunities for all;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize October 2018 as DISABILITY HISTORY AWARENESS MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.
October is also the kickoff month of DePaul Community Resources’ Embracing Everyday Life campaign, which seeks to identify homes for people with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities following the closure of Virginia’s third training center. The closures are the result of an investigation conducted by the Department of Justice into the treatment of individuals with developmental disabilities.