The onset of autumn signals change – the changing color of leaves in many parts of our beautiful state, the blessed change in temperatures from face-of-the-sun hot to more comfortable days and gorgeous nights, the change in our activities as we start preparing for the coming holidays…and so much more. For ADDPC, autumn changes include transition into our new fiscal year, with an array of new activities, grant-funded projects, and advocacy work to support individuals with I/DD and their families in all corners of Arizona.
Early autumn – more specifically, the month of October – also affords us the opportunity to recognize two significant commemorations: Down Syndrome Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
For the Down syndrome community, this is a time to recognize the enormous strides that have been made in the past half-century greater respect, inclusion, and opportunity. Today, we see individuals with DS in television series, in workplaces of all types, and in positions of prominence as representatives of the entire I/DD population. Indeed, Gabe Martinez, an Arizonan with DS who works at the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Arizona, serves on the White House’s President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. And this issue of our newsletter features the story of Chad McKinley, another Tucson resident with Down syndrome whose personal and professional accomplishments are nothing if not extraordinary.
Our other October celebration, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, offers an opportunity to explore the myriad ways employment opportunities for people with disabilities can change lives and be a substantial benefit for all involved, employee and employer alike. The employment landscape for individuals with I/DD has improved significantly in recent decades but we still have a long way to go. ADDPC is pleased to help support further progress through this month’s webinar series, which is described in more detail in the newsletter.
Finally, this autumn brings a change to the Council’s staff, as Steve Freeman, ADDPC’s Communications Director since 2021, departs us. As a parent, former Council member, and tireless advocate, Steve is a true leader in the community. His service with Southern Arizona Network for Down Syndrome, The Arc of Tucson, and other organizations sets a high standard for others. We wish Steve and his family all the best – and we know his voice will continue to be heard on I/DD issues in Arizona and beyond!