March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and the National Disability Rights Network have created a campaign that seeks to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life, as well as barriers that people with disabilities sometimes face when connecting with the communities they live in.
This week, March 20-24, 2017, the focus is on communities. The CNMI is made up of a diverse population of individuals from around the world. Through our cultures we develop our values, beliefs, and traditions that make each of our communities unique. One community that is often ignored is that of people with disabilities. Disabilities can affect the lives of anyone regardless of race, gender, or culture. Those who live with developmental disabilities have had to do so typically from birth, as developmental disabilities occur prior to the age of 22 years old, and result in three or more functional limitations.
Many of our family members and/or friends may be people with disabilities, whether they became disabled at an early age or acquired a disability later in life as an effect of the aging process. At times people with disabilities, in order to participate fully in our communities, require supports for their individual needs. There is financial support available from the Social Security Administration, nutrition support from the Nutrition Assistance Program, and medical support from the Medicaid Office. Knowing how to access these supports may be a challenge, but they are there to help us.
Through kindness and respect we can include people with disabilities in our daily activities since we do live in communities side by side.
For more information on the supports available for people with disabilities living in our community, please contact the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc. at 235-7273/4 or visit us online at www.nmpasi.org.
Greg Borja is a projects specialist at the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc.