Finding Your Passion: Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

3.23.16 Finding Your Passion

Do you love serving on projects like Special Olympics, camps for kids with developmental disabilities, and more? Working with people with developmental disabilities is often one of the most popular Youth Volunteer Corps projects. If you’ve discovered a passion for making a difference in this way, here’s how you can go even deeper.

Need to Know

Developmental disability is a term used to describe a disability that manifests before the age of 22, like cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome or more. These limitations can cause a child to develop or learn differently than a typically developing child. About 6.5 million people in the U.S. have an intellectual disability, which is just one type of developmental disability.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to get more involved! Volunteering with people with developmental disabilities can help give them the tools and resources they need to lead an independent life. More likely, you’ll find that you both have a blast getting to know each other and seeing that we all have more in common than you would have thought.

Taking Action

Ready to dive in and get more involved working with people with developmental disabilities? Below are some project ideas that could work with your group or on your own:

  • Volunteer with your local Special Olympics. Help out at their sporting events or become a coach or even a fellow player through a unified team.
  • Connect with your local chapter of Arc, an organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Many communities have camps, clubs, and other programs for people with developmental disabilities to participate in, and they’re often looking for volunteers to help! Research to see if programs like this exist in your community.
  • Launch a campaign to promote inclusion and tolerance at your school. Students with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers, so stand up against this bullying starting with your school. Do Something has super easy ideas to help take a stand. Two of our favorites are We Are Able and Safe Space Flag.
Make it a Career

Turn your passion for working with people with developmental disabilities into a lifelong career. Consider one of these possible career paths:

  • Special education teacher
  • Social worker
  • Developmental psychologist

Has volunteering helped you become passionate about working with people with developmental disabilities? Share your story in the comments!

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