March is designated as Disability Awareness Month in Indiana, with the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities sponsoring the month-long observance for 30 years. It provides an opportunity to recognize, promote and inform all Hoosiers on the independence, integration and inclusion of people with disabilities in our lives.
The council selected the theme for this year’s observance, “People, not Punchlines,” to acknowledge an ugly truth: people with disabilities are sometimes turned into objects of ridicule. In this year’s campaign, though, the individuals being profiled are not the butt of a joke, but rather they are using humor to begin a conversation, to highlight ways in which all of us can come to better understand one another.
There are 54 million Americans with disabilities, and in Indiana that number represents nearly 20% of all Hoosiers.
This week we will spotlight four of the messages the Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities created as part of their “People, not Punchlines” program. But it’s important to recognize that schools across Indiana, and certainly here in Plainfield, work every month of the school year, and every week, every day, to recognize and promote the abilities of our students identified with disabilities.
Some disabilities are easier to recognize than others. Some disabilities might be visible sometimes, but not all the time. Some might not ever be visible to an uninformed eye.
At the very least, kindness can make a difference. Patience, seeking to understand, and understanding that we all have important, valuable contributions to make in this world will help move us towards a day when a theme like “People, not Punchlines,” won’t be necessary.