March is IDD Awareness Month

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 23, 2018

By Diana Mikula

Each year, March is recognized across the country as Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Awareness Month. In Mississippi, more than 47,000 people have intellectual or developmental disability. In special recognition this year, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the Bureau of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (BIDD) Advisory Council, comprised of service providers and advocacy organizations, are launching an IDD awareness campaign to acknowledge March as IDD Awareness Month.

The campaign titled, “Celebrating Mississippians with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,” is the first of its kind for Mississippi, and highlights the connection between people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their communities.

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“Celebrating Mississippians with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” will feature videos, stories, posters, and graphics about people with intellectual or developmental disabilities that are embracing choices and enriching their lives through employment, home ownership, entrepreneurship, physical fitness and a variety of other methods. “Celebrating Mississippians with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” promotes awareness about IDD, and illustrates that people with disabilities have the ability to contribute significantly to their schools, families, relationships, neighborhoods, faith communities, and the workforce.

The term intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) may refer to a broad range of characteristics or conditions. An intellectual disability is characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and difficulties in everyday social and practical skills.

A developmental disability is attributed to a cognitive or physical impairment that results in limitations in area such as self-care, language, and mobility.

While these conditions are often misunderstood, there is one thing that should never be in doubt.

All people have the fundamental and inherent right to be respected, valued, and accepted for the contributions they make to their families, their schools, their relationships, and their communities. People living with an IDD have the same goals and desires everyone else has. They want to receive a good education, have a meaningful job, and live an independent life in the community of their choice.

They deserve the support, respect, and acceptance of everyone in our state.

This month, I would encourage all of my fellow Mississippians to recognize the strengths and contributions of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who make our state a better place to live for everyone. Our goal as a state should include supporting a better tomorrow for them, one person a time. That’s what our goal is at the Department of Mental Health.

We are working to transition people to the community, secure meaningful employment opportunities, and support independent living for those served at our IDD programs around the state. I hope you will visit to learn more about the campaign.