‘Everyone can do it’: Albany organization recognizes Intellectual Development And Disability Awareness Month
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - You’ve heard the words “we can do it.” That’s exactly the message Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Services is working to spread not only among its clients but also throughout the community during Intellectual Development And Disability Awareness Month.
“At Aspire, we live every day celebrating individuals and supporting them to live their best lives,” said Caroline Chandler, Aspire chief clinical officer.
In 1987, President Ronald Regan proclaimed March as Intellectual Development and Disability Month. According to the CDC, 6.5 million people in the United States have an intellectual disability. Ricardo Seay is one of those people.
“I like to shop, sing,” he said.
At a young age, Seay was diagnosed with a moderate intellectual disability. But he said that it doesn’t define who he is as a person.
“I like to be showing people my life,” he said.
That life is filled with endless possibilities as Seay is able to pursue his passion for singing with his friends.
“Everyone can do it. We have mothers, we have fathers, we have people that are employed and work competitive jobs.”
One of those people is Lakeyzia Hodge who was born with a speech impediment. A lot of people said she embodies what Disability Intellectual and Disability Awareness Month represents — rising above limitations.
“I never give up on nothing. I never giver give up,” she said.
Because of that determination, she’s been able to rise through the ranks. She recently received a promotion as a lead busser — now training others how to do her job.
“We definitely really appreciate her. She’s definitely an exemplarity employee and definitely an asset to our store,” Monica White, Olive Garden service professional, said.
Jennifer Stevens, Aspire community support state coordinator, said Hodge has shown perseverance not only at work but within her community.
“She’s really become a leader and an advocate for herself and other people with disabilities,” she said.
Stevens said that everyone, no matter their disability, should be given a fair opportunity to be a part of the community.
“We take people’s talents, skills and abilities and hone in on that to make sure that we celebrate others not for their disability but for their abilities,” she said.
While there are only a few more days in the month of March, Stevens said you can celebrate someone with a disability all year round just by connecting with them and being kind.
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