Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra issued a proclamation declaring June as Disability Awareness Month in Ceres. He said increasing public awareness about diverse abilities is vital to fighting the stigma and discrimination that "often serves as a barrier to employment, socialization and individual wellbeing."
He said an estimated 4,158,400 people with disabilities in California and over 70,640 people over the age of five with disabilities in Stanislaus County. Also, within the next 12 months at least one out of eight Californians will experience a disability either personally or through a family member, said Mayor Vierra.
He said the disabled can be independent and productive through their abilities.
The city wants to celebrate and recognize people of different abilities as independent, productive and part of our community, said Vierra. His proclamation noted that "education, understanding, access, engagement and relationships" make for a community "where everyone participates and is a valued member."
He urged all Ceres residents to become aware of the needs and capabilities of persons with disabilities.
The proclamation was accepted by Carolyn Teixeira Gomas of the Society for Diabilities, currently celebrating its 70th year.
"A lot of people think we're the best kept secret," Gomas told the City Council last week. "I like to think that we're still getting our message out and that we create smiles. Smiles happen at our prom or any of other sports program. Not just on the faces of our participants but on the faces of the participants' families too. Mainly because parents who have a child with a disability never think that their child is going to get to play miracle league baseball or go to the prom or go waterskiing - but they do due to the Society for Disabilities because we believe in what the ability is."
The Society's Facebook page contains some etiquette tips during interactions with persons of various disabilities. For example, one tip calls for those meeting with blind persons to identify yourself as if you have met before they need to be reminded of re-context since they don't have the visual to job their memory. Also, when meeting with persons in wheelchairs for more than a few minutes, place yourself at eye level with that person. It makes for better connection and less sore necks. Another tip suggests that when talking to a disabled person, speak directly to them and not their companion.
The Society also operates the largest loan closet of adapted medical equipment within Northern California, loaning out walkers, wheelchairs, bedside commodes and hospital beds for those in need. The non-profit organization offers sign language classes, are a resource and referral agency for the community, and run three thrift-stores, providing job training skills.
For more information on the Society for Disabilities, visit societyfordisabilities.org or call 524-1205.