Superintendent's Memo #261-09

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

September 18, 2009

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Virginia Disability History and Awareness Month

The 2009 General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 321 designating October as Disability History and Awareness Month in Virginia. This action was prompted by a group of young Virginians with disabilities who are alumni of the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF), an initiative to develop leadership skills among youth with disabilities, sponsored by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.

Students with disabilities often encounter difficulty being accepted by peers and making friends. Joining school clubs and community activities presents challenges for students with disabilities that their nondisabled peers do not encounter. Increasing public knowledge, awareness and understanding of disabilities will help to ensure full participation of students with disabilities into the life of their schools.

In June, a group of youth with disabilities who had participated in the YLF or other leadership initiatives, along with parents and teachers, met with staff from the VDOE, the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, and the Partnership for People with Disabilities to develop a bank of resources so that all schools could readily find information, activities, and materials to promote and highlight Disability History and Awareness Month in Virginia. These resources may be found at the follow website: www.virginiaselfadvocacy.org

I encourage you to visit this website, have conversations with young people with disabilities and their families in your school division and to plan activities that will promote the goals of this initiative.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Marianne Moore, VDOE transition specialist at Marianne.Moore@doe.virginia.gov or (804) 225- 2700; Dana Yarborough , director, Center for Self-Advocacy Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University at dvyarbrough@vcu.edu or (804) 828-0352; or Teri Barker- Morgan, program manager, The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities at Teri.Barker@vbpd.virginia.gov or (804) 786-9381.

PIW/MM/bw