Categories: Community Life
By Guest Blogger Mel Finefrock, Editor
Because I myself am an artist with a disability, it always pleases me to discover other great artists with disabilities who send positive messages to the public regarding matters of disability or otherwise. I would like to tell you about one such artist named Caitlin Hernandez, Los Angeles nonprofit CRE Outreach, and Dreaming in Color, the musical they produced together last summer.
CRE Outreach works with veterans, at-risk youth, and people who are blind or visually impaired by way of therapeutic expression via theatrical arts. Founder Greg Shane came to know Hernandez, a blind writer, singer and actress in 2012 and, seeing her potential, asked if she would consider adapting one of her short stories for performance. After many months of script-drafting and read-throughs, followed by weeks of intense rehearsals, Dreaming in Color was finally performed in a succession of seven shows last July at the Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica, Calif.
READ MORE ABOUT Santa Monica Play Explores Loss and Healing
By Guest Blogger Janet Froetscher, Chief Executive Officer, Special Olympics
Paul Marretti, 37, is a talented employee of a Fortune 100 company who recently was recognized as his region’s Employee of the Year. He brings a wide range of abilities with him as he serves on national leadership committees, competes in multiple sports and volunteers in his community. Paul also has an intellectual disability.
“Paul is an excellent employee. He’s very reliable, very knowledgeable, a great customer service person,” shares Paul’s supervisor Tammy Henry. “We really appreciate having Paul here.”
Empirical and anecdotal data tell us many people with intellectual disabilities, like Paul, do work and contribute enormously, but that, unfortunately, most are denied the opportunity. A recent Special Olympics survey conducted by Gallup and the University of Massachusetts at Boston identified a few startling statistics on this front:
Only 44 percent of adults with intellectual disabilities are in the labor force, which is defined as either employed or actively seeking work. In contrast, 83 percent of adults without disabilities are in the labor force. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for adults with intellectual disabilities (21 percent) is more than twice as high as those without disabilities (9 percent). Someone is considered unemployed if he or she is without a job and actively looking for and available for work.
READ MORE ABOUT It Starts with You