Disability Awareness Month aims to educate Nebraskans

Local4 News at 5
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 9:46 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - March is Development Disability Awareness Month, and around 31,000 people in Nebraska have some type of developmental or intellectual disability.

When you include people with all types of disabilities, that number grows to approximately 250,000, which is close to 13% of the states’ population. Disability officials said, recognizing that is the the key to inclusion.

“Education can really help breakdown barriers because it shows people that disability is nothing to be afraid of,” said Sharon Ohmberger, Community Engagement Director at Disability Rights Nebraska. “That there’s no harm in welcoming people and making some accommodations for people so they can participate like everyone else.”

Ohmberger said it’s important for people to know that people with disabilities are capable of doing anything. But for parents with little one with a disability, the process can be full of twist and turns.

“It’s a roller coaster ride,” said Joshua Lucius, President of Arc of Buffalo County. “There’s a lot of unknowns that we have to deal with and I think that’s the scariest part. I think that’s when people see individuals with a disability they, I think they’re more curious.”

Lucius’ 8-year-old daughter Jordyn has Down syndrome and had to eat through a tube for the first first four years of her life. She was also non-verbal for most of life. There were situations where he can feel people’s judgement, but they countered it with love.

“I think the biggest think is you learn to have tough skin,” Lucius said. “Jordyn is happy and her smile just brightens up and people gravitate to that.”

Lucius said when people would stare he made them aware that Jordyn loves to dance and sing. Jordyn also knows sign language.