As an organization that works with children with a variety of disabilities, part of the W.A.G.S. 4 Kids mission is not only to change the lives of these children, but to be an advocate for our kids and spread the message of inclusion. While W.A.G.S. 4 Kids promotes “Inclusion Always, In All Ways” throughout the year, the month of July offers the opportunity to celebrate and to raise awareness near and far.
Disability Pride Month
July is Disability Pride Month and is celebrated across the country. The observance encourages celebrating disability culture and the unique experiences of individuals with disabilities while raising awareness, promoting visibility, and showing pride for the disability community.
In 1990, the first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston. In Chicago, the first U.S.-based Disability Pride Parade was held in 2004. New York then began recognizing Disability Pride Month and Disability Pride Day because of jazz pianist Mike LeDonne, whose daughter was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome and hydrocephalus. Raising a child with special needs, LeDonne became hyper-aware of stigmas and challenges individuals with disabilities face every day. LeDonne then began planning Disability Pride Day, with the first New York City Disability Pride Day Parade being held in June 2015. Now, multiple cities across the U.S. like Los Angeles and San Antonio, among others, host Disability Pride Parades.
Celebrations within Disability Pride Month are an effort to change the way people think about and define disabilities. It’s a mission through Disability Pride Month – and beyond – to recognize that disabilities are a part of human diversity, and that diversity should be celebrated proudly.
National Disability Independence Day
National Disability Independence Day is celebrated each year on July 26, and commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This year, 2020, marks the 30th anniversary of the ADA. The ADA was signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and has since given access to, prevented discrimination against, and promoted inclusion for individuals with disabilities when it comes to employment, schools, public accommodations, transportation, service animals, and more.
In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) into law, making changes to what was defined as a disability. The change meant broader coverage for individuals that would be protected under the ADA.
On September 15, 2010, The Department of Justice published revised final regulations for government and public accommodations titles of the ADA. Those revisions meant only dogs were recognized as service animals under those sections, and described a service dog as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” It also mandated that in general, businesses or entities that fall under those titles of the ADA must allow service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities so long as the animal is under control.
The ADA and ADAAA are so important for all individuals with disabilities, but especially so for the children we serve through the W.A.G.S. 4 Kids program. The protection under the ADA and the right to have service dogs in public places has benefited many of our W.A.G.S. 4 Kids children when it comes to attending school, venturing out with their family, and more.
No matter how it’s done, raising awareness for individuals with disabilities and promoting inclusion is important not only in July, but all year. W.A.G.S. 4 Kids is proud to create inclusive events like “Christmas In July” on July 25 and the Wonder Run Virtual 5K on August 1. In the W.A.G.S. world, all are encouraged to attend, participate, and be celebrated!
If you’d like to create a project or event to celebrate inclusion and bring awareness to W.A.G.S. 4 Kids and the population it serves, submit your ideas to email@example.com. Interested youths can learn more about and submit their ideas through the Kids Who Can! Youth Empowerment Program.