Disability awareness month aims to bring inclusivity to Fishers


Graphic from the city of Fishers.

Disability awareness month exemplifies how to be a good ally.

Emilia Citoler, Reporter

March is the home to many celebrations and events, and is also the home to disability awareness month for Indiana. 2021 marks 31 years of celebration of disability awareness month. The month-long event is sponsored by Indiana Governor’s council for People with Disabilities. The goal is to promote and educate about the inclusion of all people with disabilities.

For years, there has been a certain stigma around disabilities and the people with them. This month of awareness hopes to erase that stigma and allow people with disabilities to be celebrated, as well as create a deeper connection between the community and those with disabilities.

“I think having a month specifically to bring awareness to disabilities helps to show someone with a disability isn’t defined by their disability. Someone with a disability can do anything that someone without a disability can do,” senior Jessie Guler said. “People need to learn that someone with a disability has the capacity of doing anything and everything just as they do.”

As a city, Fishers has won an award for their efforts in inclusion in 2017. The city has its own committee dedicated to disability awareness, which from the Fishers website states that they “have focused on accommodation, education, and celebration of individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.” 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s disability awareness month was faced with certain limitations. There was more of a focus on virtual happenings, as the This Is Fishers blog which released community stories related to disabilities every Wednesday in March. These articles include the stories of FHS’s very own Patrick Schooley, who won the Accessibility award and Maddie Long, who won the Life Without Limits award.

In his article, Schooley describes what being a dad to a child with disabilities is like and gave some advice to other parents. He stated to “actively search out the support groups and services that your community provides. We owe it to our children to give them the very best life possible that does not include the barriers that others may want to put in their way.”

The Fishers website also displays an “Ally ToolKit” where they outline how to be an ally and have sections of FAQs. An ally is someone who advocates and amplifies the cause of marginalized groups.  The toolkit also emphasizes treating those with disabilities with respect and avoiding condescending or outdated language.  

“The best advice I have to become a good ally is to educate yourself and others on what being an ally means. Being an ally does not mean just awareness, it means sticking up for someone with disabilities in any situation. Be there for them, be their friend, support them in any way possible,” Guler said. 

Disability awareness month concluded with an art exhibition on March 27 and an Intro to American Sign Language event on March 30.