From awareness to respect…

May 8, 2012 by cpehrson

Mathew McCollough, Executive Director, District of Columbia Developmental Disabilities Council, recently posted a very articulate and well-thought out blog entitled “From Awareness to Respect…And Paving the Way.

Mathew’s thoughts were based on his personal experiences about being employed as a person with a disability, what that means, and what responsibility those in similar situations have to advocate to “eliminate discrimination and remove barriers to full inclusion and acceptance” in the work place.  His message was to all employers, urging them “to stand up and embrace the challenge that is before you, and provide leadership within your programs to recruit and retain the most qualified applicants and employees from diverse backgrounds.”

Photo of Gordon Richins

Gordon Richins, CPD Consumer Liaison

His words evoked a heart-felt response in Gordon Richins, the CPD’s Consumer Liason, that we think is worth sharing on our CPD blog.

Gordon’s response:

Mathew this is a very powerful and well written blog. I say this not because we are friends and colleagues but because it tells it like it is. To the point and “straight forward”.  Quoting your last response of…

We (people with disabilities) must take control of our own circumstances;
challenging the ones around us by pushing and strategically
situating ourselves in more leadership, management and other respectful roles
within our communities and places of employment –
We have no more excuses.

As an advocate and an individual with a significant disability I have experienced an enjoyable  life, of 32 years pre-injury  and 24 good years (post-injury) of a humbling life  benefitting from the hard work and sacrifice my peers have done. They gave me the opportunity to have the quality of life I and my friends enjoy, and some of my friends within the disability community sometimes take for granted.

Tonight, May 8, OPTIONS for Independence, Northern Utah’s Center for Independent Living “CIL” will show the film Lives Worth Living, a documentary that chronicles the history of America’s disability rights movement, produced by the PBS Series Independent Lens. The screening of the film will be followed by a panel discussion on “The Disability Rights Movement: Past, Present, and Future.”

I’m proud of my presence and involvement within the disability community. I also owe a great deal of love and gratitude to my wonderful wife, Faustine, for 36 years of love, companionship and support thru the rough times and the many good times. This gratitude extends to Justin Dart who I’ve met twice, Ed Roberts, Helen Roth, Kelly Buckland, Dr. Marvin Fifield and numerous other disability advocates who helped pave the way for me and many others within the community.

There is still a great deal of work to be done by disability advocates. Mathew, your powerful words and example will certainly be part of the hard work ahead of us.  Thank you for the greater message your Blog brings to light for the disability community as well as the greater community we are all a part off.

Gordon Richins, Consumer Liaison, Center for Persons with Disabilities

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