St. Coletta Recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Every year, people in the workforce reflect on the important role disability plays in diversity within the workforce. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is observed every October and celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities. It also educates us on the value of those with diversity by including their skills and talent.

The history of NDEAM actually revolves around the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act help with the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life, including employment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was originally known as the Smith-Fess Act, signed by President Woodrow Wilson, which was modeled on an earlier law that provided the rehabilitation of World War I veterans with physical disabilities. This remained unchanged until 1935, with the creation of the Social Security Act which gave an income maintenance system for those unable to work by providing benefits.

On August 11, 1945, President Harry S. Truman declared the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.’ The term ‘physically’ was removed in 1962 to include individuals with all disabilities.

1973 marked a major step forward in legislation with the Rehabilitation Act, which extended and revised the Vocational Rehabilitation Amendments of 1954 by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability by federally funded and assisted programs.

The creation and signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush stemmed from collective efforts by advocates in the preceding decades and is the most comprehensive disability rights legislation in history.

To this day, the Americans with Disabilities Act has allowed those with disabilities both physical developmental to excel in the workforce. Most now work in the career that they always dreamed of, others with jobs they never thought they could have.

At St. Coletta of Wisconsin, our Genesis and Access programs further help those with developmental disabilities. The Genesis program provides extended education for young adults ages 16-23 in a number of areas that will ensure for a more successful future on a personal and professional level with their community.

“It is important for us to raise awareness of those with disabilities that work or wish to work.” Bob Schmidt, Director of Employment and Education at St. Coletta, explains. “Employable people are sometimes overlooked because they have disabilities or challenges to overcome. Yet those employees with disabilities sometimes have a better employment record than the average employee. They usually stay at their job longer, have a better attendance, and display a great willingness to work.”

The employment programs at St. Coletta of Wisconsin help by first completing the education process, and encourage work in a controlled setting to learn job skills and work commitment. Once they have learned there work abilities and have gained the drive to work, the programs match their skills with jobs in the community.

A positive example is Brandon Heine, a member of the St. Coletta Genesis program.

Brandon has been with St. Coletta for eight years and works at J&L Tire Center in Johnson Creek. “I began working there when I graduated.” Heine reports. “I do a lot of stocking tires and some cleaning when I work – and I enjoy it!”

Brandon actually enjoys working and is glad to be in the community. “I joined St. Coletta because I wanted to be involved with others like me. I now play basketball in the Special Olympics and go to most all the community games.”

In his free time, Brandon plays on St. Coletta’s basketball team during the Special Olympics and enjoys various sporting events. His favorite team is the Packers.

Those with the talent and drive to excel at their jobs deserve recognition and through the awareness of NDEAM, St. Coletta of Wisconsin is proud to work with these amazing individuals.

For more information about NDEAM and the employment programs offered by St. Coletta of Wisconsin contact Bob Schmidt, Director of Employment and Education at 920-674-8219 or gro.iwattelocts@tdimhcsb.



Captions: Brandon Heine began working at J&L Tire shortly after graduation.  He does everything from stocking tires to cleaning around the shop.

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