National Disability Employment Awareness Month is set to be celebrated in Hot Springs at 10 a.m. Thursday in the lobby of the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa with the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services Region 6 Business Recognition Reception.
At an event in Little Rock on Oct. 1, Gov. Asa Hutchinson proclaimed October as NDEAM in Arkansas. Texarkana held a similar event last week, and one is taking place in West Memphis today.
At Thursday's event, state Rep. Bruce Cozart, R-District 24, will present Hutchinson's proclamation, and Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe will also declare the day as "Disability Employment Awareness Day in Hot Springs."
ARS, a section of the Division of Workforce Services, is holding the event to "showcase employees with disabilities and the businesses that support them," according to a news release.
"What we're trying to do is ensure that our community as a whole looks upon individuals who have disabilities as those who have self-determination, independence, empowerment, and are included and integrated into the business of our community," ARS Business Engagement Representative Gretchen Hunt said Tuesday.
ARS Commissioner Alan McClain is scheduled to speak, and ARS Chief of Field Services Carl Daughtery, representatives from West Central Arkansas Development District Inc. and Arkansas Career Training Institute administration members, including Director Jonathan Bibb will also be attending.
"We are excited to see so many new avenues opening up in Arkansas and across the nation for individuals with disabilities to work with so many supportive employers," McClain in the release.
"Every day, we see the talent that individuals with disabilities add to our workforce, but this is the time of year when we want to spotlight their value to our state and our economy."
The Arlington will be awarded a certificate of recognition from ARS at the event for "servicing and employing people with disabilities," Hunt said.
"The Arlington has successfully employed people with disabilities for over 20 years, and they will be the first-ever ARS Region 6 business to win this. It has faithfully exhibited the things that our agency believes in and stands for. Because of that, we felt like they should receive recognition for that."
The event is free, open to the public, requires no reservation, and expects to see attendance of about 50, she said.
Thursday's event, like all other events this month in conjunction with NDEAM, have an overarching goal, according to Hunt.
"We want to replace the stigma that people with disabilities face with acceptance, and we want to replace ignorance with understanding. We want to make sure every individual is valued and that all people are given the opportunity to work with respect and dignity," she said.
This extends to the students and staff of ACTI, a number of which have been impacted by the program's shift to a nonresidential model.
"We are collaborating with ACTI, and we had a meeting with them and their representatives yesterday. As the business engagement coordinator, I'm going to be working with them and trying to get their people employed," Hunt said.
"We honestly are trying to get our people ready to work. And that's kind of our goal."Local on 10/09/2019