Neighbours meeting for the first time at our annual Ice Cream Social.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness month is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean that the conversation needs to stop. We want to keep the momentum going and continue promoting awareness throughout the year to help build safe and welcoming communities for people living with disabilities.

Everyone can make a difference. Here is a quick list of four simple things we all can do to help make our communities more inclusive:

1. Familiarize yourself with what it means to have a Developmental Disability.

Not everyone knows what it means to have a developmental disability and that is okay! Educating yourself is the first step in being a part of positive change. Having a developmental disability means there is a permanent impairment in the physical, learning, language or behavioural areas of an individual. Examples include autism, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and brain injuries — no two are the same.

Individuals with developmental disabilities have different needs and skills than other people do. However, they can still participate fully in society and are an important part of a diverse community.

2. Become an advocate!

Advocates are individuals that speak up for the fundamental human rights for people with developmental disabilities. Talking about these things – getting the conversation going – is what will help get rid of stigmas and allow people with disabilities to feel welcomed into the community.

3. Change the language.

It’s time to get rid of the R-word. Take a stand for what is right and help people be mindful of the language they are using. The way we talk about things affects attitudes, and attitudes affect actions. By choosing to use more inclusive language you can help make strides to strengthen your community and make a huge difference in the lives of others.

4. Get involved.

There are several ways you can get involved and help to promote inclusivity in your community. Awareness does not stop at the end of the month, so get involved today! Here are some great ideas on ways you can make a difference: