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Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

By: Jillian Risberg Email
By: Jillian Risberg Email

They live full productive lives like everyone else, but sometimes people still judge. The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley is trying to change that.

Arcs across West Virginia designate March to raise awareness about issues facing people with disabilities. With more than 700 chapters nationwide, The Arc has made great strides in promoting and protecting the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

One of those people is Kevin Smith.

“What it means to me, that people with developmental disabilities has a life like everybody else," Smith says.

He says they shop at the same stores, they're married, have homes, cars, go to church, take active part in everyday life and have jobs and pay taxes.

Smith's suggestion is to suspend judgment on people you know nothing about, not just in March for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, but the rest of the year, too.

Mary Withum has a new job and wants to better herself everyday.

“A lot of people think that because you have a disability you can't do anything, but that's not true. I mean, there's all kinds of things that people with all kinds of different disabilities can do," Withum says.
"So it's just important for people to realize that we shouldn't be recognized just this month, but all other 11 months out of the year."

When the Mineral Wells resident was at the age that teenagers learn to drive, "I'm never going to drive," she remembers thinking.

Withum is 26 now and behind the wheel for a year. She has to use hand controls, but drives herself most everywhere. She says don't judge people with disabilities because anything's possible.


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