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Nominations are being accepted for disabled Wilsonians and advocates for a celebration luncheon during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“We are looking for those whose work exemplifies the national effort to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers with disabilities,” said Renee Smith, director of the Wilson Human Relations office. “We also will take time to recognize those professionals that work each day in the disabilities field, serve as educators and lead the way as advocates.”
Awards are presented in five categories — employee of the year, employer of the year, advocate of the year, professional of the year and educator of the year — during a luncheon at noon on Oct. 19 at the Wilson County Club. Only three awards were given out last year because no nominations were received for employees and advocates. The Wilson Committee for Persons with Disabilities is hard at work to ensure credit is given where it is due in all five categories.
“We know there are many employees with disabilities and very active advocates in Wilson,” said Smith. “Our committee is doing all they can to reach out, but we need the help of the community to nominate these amazing and dedicated people.”
Nominations are due to the Human Relations office by Sept. 27 and consist of a one-page form along with a letter detailing the story of the nominee. According to the Congressional Committee findings for the Americans with Disabilities Act, 43 million Americans are disabled and of that number, only one-third are 65 years old or older.
When Congress declared the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” in 1945, the emphasis was on physical disabilities. It evolved through the years, dropping “physically” from the celebratory week’s name in 1962 and expanding to National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 1988. The Office of Disability Employment Policy leads the recognition efforts through a national campaign to celebrate the skills and talents workers with disabilities bring to the workplace.
“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said in a statement. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business.”
For more information on this awareness month, to submit a nomination or to purchase $12 tickets to the celebration luncheon, call 252-399-2308.