Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) is a large-scale national effort coordinated by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to promote career development for students and job-seekers with disabilities through hands-on career exploration and ongoing mentoring relationships. DMD officially launches on the third Wednesday of each October during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Founded in 1999 through a White House initiative, DMD was originally a small program with less than three-dozen students participating to increase the awareness of NDEAM. Since that event, DMD has spring-boarded from a one day event for a small group of students to an extensive national mentoring program for young professionals with disabilities across the United States, territories and abroad with more than 10,000 participants each year.
The growth of DMD was made possible by the unwavering work of DMD Coordinators across the country who volunteer their time to host and manage the logistical requirements for a DMD. These events produce life changing results for mentees, such as full time employment and internship opportunities. AAPD continues to increase the reach of DMD through growing its network of DMD coordinators.
Joyce Bender is an AAPD Board Member, the Founder and CEO of Bender Consulting Services, and a long-time participant in DMD. Additionally, Joyce was an inaugural inductee of the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. “I am a passionate supporter of Disability Mentoring Day and am proud to say that Pittsburgh was one of the first cities to participate. Over the years I have seen the impact, not only for the student with disability, but also for breaking down barriers with employers who host students during the job shadowing experience. When you mentor a young person with a disability, you empower them…that’s priceless!”
Throughout October and in the days ahead, DMD events are happening in cities around the nation. A partial list of events is posted on the AAPD website at: www.aapd.com/dmd2015.
Looking to the future, AAPD will continue to support coordinators and businesses around the country while also encouraging disability mentoring to be more than just one day. The more young people with disabilities interact with mentors and receive job training skills, the more likely they are to find internship and employment opportunities. Economic self-sufficiency is a critical piece to independence and a better quality of life for people with disabilities.
Whether it’s through serving as a sponsor, host, and/or mentor, corporations, local businesses, government agencies, and other organizations have been the driving force for moving the success of DMD forward. To learn more about the opportunities to have your organization get involved with DMD in a local community, please visit www.aapd.com/dmd or email us at DMD@aapd.com.
About the American Association of People with Disabilities: AAPD is the nation’s largest disability rights organization. We promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. AAPD members, including people with disabilities and family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. Learn more about AAPD at www.aapd.com.
About the National Disability Mentoring Coalition: The mission of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) is to increase the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. Member organizations share core values and align with the Coalition’s objectives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities. Members include: American Association of People with Disabilities, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Broad Futures, Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, D.C. Public Schools, Easter Seals, Institute for Educational Leadership, Keep the Music Playing, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, MENTOR: The National Partnership, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, National Council on Independent Living, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, PolicyWorks, Inc., The Viscardi Center, and United States Business Leadership Network. Learn more about the NDMC and its Members at: www.disabilitymentors.org.