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Planting Seeds of Disability Awareness

By Rachel Chapman

October is Disabilities Awareness Month.  In an effort to raise awareness of national staff and others about cultural diversity, the Intercultural Relations Council of the United Church of Christ’s Cleveland offices celebrates a different group each month.  This year, the UCC Disabilities Ministries Board is partnering with the Intercultural Relations Council to present a meaningful month of activities for the staff.  Throughout the entire month of October the staff will receive an emailed informational fact each day and a weekly devotional written by a person with a disability or someone close to them.  There will be a group activity of putting together Busy Bags for a local center that helps persons with developmental and memory challenges.  The bags, donated by the UCC Insurance Board, will be filled with items that will help with cognition, sequencing, matching skills and more.   A worship service for staff and community will be offered in the Church House’s Amistad Chapel.  Members of the DM Board will deliver the service and music will be provided by a local artist who lives with a disability.

Another activity will be a workshop by The Art Therapy Studio which provides programs for people with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges through the therapeutic use of art (http://www.arttherapystudio.org/new/).  The staff will also have the opportunity to view and discuss the original Rooted in Rights documentary, Bottom Dollars, about the law that allows companies to legally pay persons with disabilities less than minimum wage (http://www.rootedinrights.org/videos/employment/bottom-dollars/).  And finally, along with a month-long display of quotes and artwork by persons living with disabilities, there will be a brown bag lunch presentation from a staff member at the center that received the Busy Bags.  That person will discuss the bags’ impact on the clients and ways of continuing the partnership.

It will be a full month of planting seeds and raising awareness of the United Church of Christ’s national staff to remind or better equip them for including persons with disabilities in the work and life of the church.

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