The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month Oct. 22 with an observance at the Mazzoli Federal Building. This year’s theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now.”
According to its website, NDEAM celebrates America's workers with disabilities and emphasizes the importance of inclusive policies and practices to ensure that all Americans who want to work can work and have access to services and supports to enable them to do so. With continued advances in such supports, including accessible technology, it is easier than ever before for America's employers to hire people with disabilities in high-demand jobs.
To celebrate NDEAM, the Louisville District welcomed guest speakers Jennifer McMahon and Hayden Redmon from Special Olympics Kentucky.
“There are 35 sports sanctioned by Special Olympics around the globe,” said Jennifer McMahon, Special Olympics Kentucky development director. “We have 15 here in Louisville, and I want to make sure everyone understands these guys work every day, every week, every month of the year.”
As development director, McMahon is responsible for various revenue streams including foundations, corporate partnerships, major gifts and special events. She has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management which led her to Special Olympics Kentucky in 2015.
“This organization has done so much over the last 50 years,” McMahon said. “We serve 4.5 million athletes across the globe and locally, here in Kentucky, we serve 10,000 athletes in 102 counties.”
Hayden Redmon is a Special Olympics Kentucky athlete leader, global messenger and part-time employee in the Louisville office. Redmon has participated in Special Olympics in many different sports over the years.
“I first learned how to bowl and play basketball,” Redmon said. “My coach taught me how to shoot the ball in basketball, and my bowling partner taught me how to aim in bowling.”
Currently Redmon plays softball, basketball, bocce and bowling.
Special Olympics also provides medical and wellness screenings.
“Special Olympics is the leading provider of medical and wellness screenings for people with intellectual disabilities,” McMahon said. “And it’s free.”
McMahon went on to say what participants learn struggling in Special Olympics is what makes them such great employees.
“You have to believe in yourself for others to believe in you,” McMahon said. “They are grateful, and it means a lot to them to be a part of the workforce.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, NDEAM started in 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the use of the word "physically" ceased in order to include individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to NDEAM. In 2001, the Department established ODEP and it assumed responsibility for NDEAM, which includes annual theme selection to facilitate advanced event planning by businesses and community organizations that support the employment of people with disabilities.
There are many ways to be involved with the Special Olympics. If interested please visit their website at http://soky.org/.