March is a month full of celebration and awareness. We kicked off March with a salute to UCT women in honor of Women’s History month, it is also Colon Cancer Awareness Month, National Reading Awareness Month and American Red Cross Month, to name a few. But there is one cause that is near and dear to UCT – National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan called upon all Americans to provide the “encouragement and opportunities” necessary for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their potential. In those 30 years, we’ve seen the passage of several important pieces of legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), Rosa’s Law (2010) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004).
But did you know that prior to 1987, UCT and its members were already committed to helping people with disabilities? It started in 1958, when our members decided the organization needed a focused community service project – something that would have an impact on communities all across North America.
One year later, there was no doubt as to what that top project would be; and during the 1959 UCT convention, members unanimously approved the decision to support people with special needs.
For nearly 60 years, we’ve been giving back in various ways. We established a scholarship program to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as a scholarship fund to provide financial assistance to people in the special education field.
UCT has also been a proud partner of the Special Olympics, donating more than $500,000 as well as countless volunteer hours over the years. And still today, many of our local councils take on projects that benefit people with special needs.
Just last month, UCT President Gorden Woodworth and Chairman of the Board Tom Hoffman presented a donation to The Arc of Ohio on behalf of UCT Charities. The Arc of Ohio tirelessly fights to advance the rights of citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. One of their many projects is to provide assistive technology, like an iPad or a tablet, that helps maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a person with a disability. We thought that was pretty awesome!
March is just getting started and there’s plenty of time for you and your council to fulfill UCT’s top project. Maybe it is getting involved with The Arc in your area or volunteering at an organization that helps people with disabilities – or it could be as simple as getting a local school to participate in our UCT Gives Back AGAIN video contest or even making a donation to our Kaye Trainer program which helps special hockey athletes. Do something that inspires you and makes a positive impact on a person with disabilities!