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Inclusive Communities Key for Iowans with Disabilities

PHOTO: Adam Reynolds works at the Science Center of Iowa and spends time volunteering and giving back to the community. Photo credit: John Michaelson.
PHOTO: Adam Reynolds works at the Science Center of Iowa and spends time volunteering and giving back to the community. Photo credit: John Michaelson.
March 28, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa – They are friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, and Iowans with developmental disabilities are being recognized for making a difference in communities across the state.

Rik Shannon, policy manager of the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, says all of the efforts are part of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

"We really take advantage of this opportunity to kind of accept and recognize people with developmental disabilities for their abilities, their talents and their contributions, and to increase awareness of people with disabilities, developmental and otherwise," he says.

According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 350,000 Iowans with disabilities, including nearly 50,000 with developmental disabilities.

While March is quickly coming to an end, Shannon says the education and awareness will continue throughout the year, thanks in part to a series of videos produced on community inclusion.

Among those featured is Adam Reynolds of Des Moines, who lives and works in the East Village.

"No one points me out as, 'Oh, you have a disability,'” Reynolds relates. “No, not at all and you know, I don't think of it that way either.

“And that's the thing I like is, you know, they don't point that out, they don't categorize me, you know? There's no reason for it."

Reynolds is also active as a volunteer. He says for others with disabilities in Iowa, that's a great way to start getting involved and making communities places where everyone is accepted and respected.

"People with disabilities, like I've said, they need to get out and show people, other people, that they can do things,” he says. “Because I feel like – even people that I've known in the past, they've told me, 'Well Adam, you can't do this, you can't do that,'” he relates. “Yes, I can, and I'll prove it to you."

Like Reynolds, Shannon says in greater numbers than ever, Iowans with disabilities are engaging in their communities as advocates and raising their voices on policies that affect their lives.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA