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Making a Difference in the Lives of those with Disabilities

Affecting those with disabilities

Who do you think of when you hear of individuals or businesses making a difference in the lives of those with disabilities? Is it your service coordinator, your program coordinator, your local doctor or your habilitative interventionist? This summer I had the opportunity to learn about 20 individuals and businesses who are pushing boundaries, creating inclusive environments, and challenging the status quo. These individuals and businesses never miss the opportunity to create a better community for those with disabilities and advocate for those sometimes without a voice.

This year marked the sixth annual Commitment to Community Awards luncheon where Community Partnerships of Idaho, recognizes and honors significant accomplishments of individuals, organizations, and businesses who value individuals with disabilities as important contributors to the communities. This year’s nominees ranged from tech, recreational, non-profits, hospitals and small businesses. Although these nominees were separated by  432 miles they were unified in their attempts to create a more inclusive environment.

Of the twenty spectacular nominees we received,  four were the honorees each representing a different award category. The first category being Building Bridges which recognizes a candidate that understands the value of inclusiveness in a community and works to enhance the individual perspective and contributions of all community members. The second category being Opening Doors which recognizes a candidate who has increased opportunities for individuals with disabilities to access their communities. The third award is Plays Well with Others which recognizes a candidate who has shown outstanding leadership by bringing together community partners to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. The final award is the Lifetime Achievement award which honors an individual at or nearing the end of a career for his or her lifetime contribution to enriching the lives of individuals with disabilities.

This year’s Building Bridges award  recipient was HP Boise DisAbility Business Impact Network which is an HP employee group made up of individuals seeking to increase disability awareness and inclusivity within the HP community. This group is at the forefront of modeling how businesses can foster awareness and inclusion. Our youngest ever nominee was this year’s Opening Doors award recipient, at only twelve years old Alex Knoll is handing our business cards that read, CEO. Alex is the inventor of Ability App, which is a free app that helps people with disabilities navigate public spaces by providing information about wheelchair ramps, disabled parking, Braille menus, employment opportunities and much more. Griselda Camacho was the Plays Well with Others honoree. Griselda is the organizer of the only Spanish Disability conference in Idaho and has made it her mission to work with and support Latino families that have loved ones with developmental disabilities. It was Dr. Timothy Leavell who received that year’s Lifetime Achievement award. Over the past 28 years Dr. Leavell’s service demonstrates a belief that individuals with disabilities deserve to be included as equal participants and teammates in activities and community events. Dr. Leavell strives to practice advocacy and collaboration in everything he does.

As Nelson Mandala once stated, “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.” So today what can you do to make the world a better place?