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The Empowering Nature of Work

As we close out another National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we, at the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) are heartened to see the many and creative ways individuals and organizations helped bring this year’s theme, “America’s Workforce: Empowering All” to life.

We were also pleased to contribute to this year’s celebration with the launch of CDE’s latest public service announcement (PSA), “Working Works.” Through the voices of four individuals, this PSA shares the many ways work empowers all, whether we have disabilities or not. It also addresses the importance of ensuring that people can remain in the workforce following injury or illness and the role employers, health care professionals and others play in helping them do so.

Among the PSA’s participants is Cal Ripken, Jr., also known as baseball’s “all-time Iron Man” because he holds the record for most consecutive Major League Baseball games played, at 2,632. Cal appears alongside his longtime athletic trainer, Richie Bancells, who supported Cal’s efforts to “stay in the game” after injuries.

Two people with disabilities, a man and a woman, sitting at a desk in an office smiling. "When my life changed in an instant, we made a plan to keep me working."We also meet Ish Escobar, a human resources professional with a defense contractor, and U.S. Army veteran with service-connected disabilities, who wanted to “keep working” upon separation from the military. Participant Bruce Goebel is a third-generation cabinetmaker who, after a machinery accident severed his right hand, worked with his family, physicians and staff so he “could come back strong” when ready. Last, but not least, we have Chanelle Houston, a research analyst who returned to work following a spinal cord injury with strong support from colleagues and her health care team. Chanelle appears alongside occupational therapist, Christine Crawford, and with her company’s President and CEO, Kevin Beverly.

These individuals’ experiences clearly illustrate the value of retaining the talents of people following injury or illness. Not everyone is fortunate to have the support they did, however. For a variety of complex reasons, each year millions of Americans leave the workforce after injury or illness, to their detriment and that of their families, their employers and our nation.

At its most basic level, work is a matter of livelihood. It’s how we all earn a living and provide for our families. But, for many, it’s about more than that. It’s also about contributing our skills and experience, following a passion or being part of something larger than ourselves. It empowers all, on multiple levels—every day of every month.

 

About the Campaign for Disability Employment

The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) is a collaborative effort among several disability and business organizations committed to changing attitudes about disability and employment. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. “Working Works” is the CDE’s fourth in a series of PSAs exploring different aspects of disability employment. To access these PSAs and learn more about the CDE, visit www.WhatCanYouDoCampaign.org.

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