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Show-Me State Shines During NDEAM

 

I wanted to share several events that have had a great impact in Missouri during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This month, I have been inspired by the collaboration and cooperation between businesses, service organizations and individuals who have made these events happen.      

The first event I want to highlight is the Seventh Annual disABILITY Awareness event. Held on the Truman State University campus in Kirksville, MO on October 6th, the daylong event brought together community members with and without disabilities for a disability services fair that included breakout sessions on independent living, universal design, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and employment. Several sessions featured self-advocates presenters attended by Truman State University students in health sciences and disability studies. Colleen Kelly Starkloff (Co-founder of the Starkloff Disability Institute and Paraquad in St Louis) was the keynote speaker during lunch, where she fielded questions from a packed house of well over 200 participants. I can best sum up the Conference by saying it had a diverse attendance and was a great experience for everyone involved.  

The organizer of this event, Chuck Comstock, is Advocacy Specialist with the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities, Regional Center in Kirksville. Chuck chairs the Adair County People First chapter that held a DASH For disABILITIES 5K Road Race to help fund the Annual disABILITY Awareness event. Chuck also organizes other events throughout Northeast Missouri including Celebrate the Artist in You, an art show featuring the artwork of those who receive services from his agency.

(WIOA Youth, DVOP, and Functional Leader staff members from the Missouri Job Center in Kirksville, MO attended and exhibited at the Seventh Annual disABILITY Awareness event.)

The second event I was excited to attend was the 2015 Greater Kansas City Disability Mentoring Day. The October 20th event, held at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, provided a welcoming and professional atmosphere where students with disabilities and HR professionals attended employment-related sessions and then networked during a career exploration fair. Brian Ellefson established the event 11 years ago and has recruited the assistance of numerous professionals to make Mentoring Day a huge success in the bi-state area each and every year. 

The all-day event included more than 80 students who participated in mock interviews, conference sessions on employment tips, and a career exploration fair with 15 regional businesses. Job seekers were encouraged to bring resumes to share with the businesses in attendance. This event was a tremendous opportunity for job seekers with disabilities, businesses and service providers to network in the Kansas City area.    

(Members of the Greater Kansas City Disability Mentoring Day Committee and participants in the Services Fair included staff from the Missouri Job Centers in Kansas City and Independence, MO including Veteran and Workforce Services staff with the Missouri Division of Workforce Development in addition to Disability Navigator and Equal Opportunity staff with the Full Employment Council in Kansas City.)

What NDEAM related events have you attended this year? Which ones do you think were the most successful and impactful and why?

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Written by Kristin Funk, Disability Coordinator, Equal Opportunity Unit, Missouri Division of Workforce Development

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